Last Wednesday, I had a delightful and very informative Skype call with Jill Chivers, an Australian woman who took her compulsive buying bull by the horns. She decided that for a full year she'd refrain from buying any new clothes and shop only in her own closet. The experiment resulted first in a blog and then an online learning program for overshoppers, My Year Without Clothes Shopping. Her program is designed to help other people make the same life-affirming changes she made.
A successful corporate facilitator for 10 years, Chivers suddenly lost her job when new management did a large scale purge. No income coming in? It never entered her mind to spend less-until she and her husband took a trip to San Francisco. Afterward, coming home with expensive new clothing she wouldn't have had a prayer of affording if her husband hadn't been subsidizing her, she had an "aha" moment.
On December 10th, 2009, she created her first blog post, which chronicled her thinking about imposing a one-year clothes shopping ban on herself. It was a brave and inventive leap that came entirely from within; Jill didn't know then that compulsive shopping was a recognized disorder, didn't know about available resources. She felt quite alone with her problem. She certainly didn't know then that three other compulsive buyers had implemented a similar strategy-and had written about it. In the Red: Diary of a Recovering Shopaholic, by Alexis Hall, Judith Levine's Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping, and Give It Up! My Year of Learning to Live Better With Less, by Mary Carlomagno, are all accounts of one-year shopping bans.