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Are you a shop-o-holic?

a woman with shopping bags

The season of giving is behind us, but its ugly cousin, mass consumerism, keeps on keeping on. Boxing Day sales merge into New Year sales, which merge into summer sales … and it’s all aimed at keeping us spending.

A young pastor once made a pact with himself not to spend any money for a month. Although he would never have called himself a shop-o-holic, he discovered that his urge to spend could be surprisingly strong: ‘I would want to go to the petrol station and buy a bottle of water, just to get the feeling of buying something,’ he said. He observed that ‘even the least consumer in our Western culture, is still a major consumer’.

But the good news is that, like this pastor, there’s a growing awareness that we need to break the spending habit. Here’s some things you can do differently this year:

Go on a shopping fast:

One of our War Cry team decided to not spend any money on clothes for six months. The idea scared her, which confirmed it was something she needed to do. She pulled out old clothes from her wardrobe and re-styled them, which was creative and satisfying. At the end of the fast, she realised she didn’t need half of the things that she had thought she needed.

Say no to advertising:

Marketing works by making us feel that we need something we never knew we needed. The best way to break this cycle is to say no to junk mail and adverts, and to take a break from browsing in shops.

Give it away:

For everything you buy, give something away. If you buy a new shirt, find one you don’t wear anymore and donate it to The Salvation Army Family Store.

Find free ways to nurture yourself:

We can get addicted to anything that gives us a high when we’re down. Shopping is just one of those things. Think of positive ways to nurture yourself instead—it could be reading, learning to relax, going for a walk, having a cuppa with a friend. Anything that is healthy for your soul, as well as your mind, body and bank balance.