Strategies for Avoiding the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale from a Recovering Shopaholic

How will I avoid the Nordstrom sale?

I knew it would come…It’s been there in the back of my head since I shredded my Nordstrom card last October. Somehow I figured I’d be further along in my shopping addiction recovery by the time the sale arrived. I had hopes that by now I’d have it all figured out and wouldn’t skip a beat…I’d breeze right through the sale without batting a lash, feeling confident to mindfully shop only for items I’ve carefully thought out . Sadly, this is not the case. I have mixed emotions as the date approaches. On one hand I am grateful that I closed that credit card and therefore do not have access to the early days of the sale. On the other hand I am sad that I closed that credit card and do not have access to the early days of the sale. Even knowing how much debt I racked up last summer…all the angst it caused me…the stress..the shame…even with all that there is still a part of me that longs to be able to bask in all the goodies that will be discounted. So how am I going to resist? What is my strategy going to be? After a productive session with my therapist and further self-reflection, I have put together a few ideas that I hope will get me through and might be useful to others who are trying to avoid the sale.

1. Relive my memories and learn from the past - I am usually an in-the-moment kind of person. I do not spend a lot of time living in the past or planning the future, but this is the one occasion where I am going to rehash the events of a year ago. I am especially going to recall how when the sale was over I couldn’t even remember all that I had purchased. After I had closed out my Nordstrom card, I decided to return at least half of what I had purchased. It wasn’t that hard to do because most of it I didn’t even truly love…it was all compulsive shopping not mindful shopping. It was the type of shopping that only ever feels good for the moment. Not the type of shopping where you plan for something, know that it is what you really want, take your time to find the right thing making sure it meets all your criteria so you are confident that after you purchase it you will still love it months later. I did not love all the things I compulsively bought last summer and still did not love them when I returned them. Now almost a year later, I hope I learned something from that experience. I remind myself how low my self-esteem was after that sale. I had charged well beyond what I had planned for. I felt sneaky for weeks trying to hide all my purchases from my husband. I felt worried about the very high credit card balance and paying it off. Those are all emotions that I do not desire to experience again. None of those feelings were worth any "great deal" I might find.

2. The items I want to buy for the Fall and Winter I will find in the Fall and Winter. I am sure that once October rolls around and the leaves turn to golden warm hues and the air settles into more than just a cool breeze, I will desire to refresh a few things in my wardrobe. But I can not possibly know now in the middle of the summer, how I will feel at the end of September about my Fall wardrobe. Until I move my current cool weather clothing out of storage and back into the prime real estate location in my closet I won’t even recall everything I already own! For now, I will keep an eye on the new Fall trends and decide what I may like to implement into my EXISTING wardrobe. Currently, I know of three items I would definitely like to purchase in the Fall:

  • A camel cashmere-blend wrap coat (this has been on my DESIRE list for many years and I’ve yet to find the right one)

  • A new pair of low heeled black booties (to replace the over worn ones I lived in last winter)

  • A new black shoulder bag.

I feel confident that I do not need to purchase this coat and accessories in July or August. One could argue that I might be able to find these items at a great price during the Nordstrom sale, but I am not ready to take that risk. I believe I would get too distracted by all the other great sale “finds” and likely end up with everything but what I set out to buy. I will save this shopping list for the Fall. I need to break my pre-season shopping cycle once and for all and shop only for the season I am in (and right now I do not need any more summer items!).

3. Avoid reading the fashion bloggers “must have” lists. This is going to be difficult as I have gotten into a comfy habit each week of reading certain fashion blogs or watching YouTube videos of certain fashion vloggers. I know a few will come up with tempting “look books” of all their suggested Nordstrom picks. I also know that I am very vulnerable in this regard. I’d like to believe I’d view their Nordstrom sale fashion posts and use them as inspiration, but my past has proven differently for me. The obstacle I face with this goal is how to now fill the time I normally spend reading and viewing these posts. My hopeful solution to this is:

  • I’m going to unsubscribe to the fashion bloggers (temporarily). This way I won’t receive the emails reminding me of what I am missing.

  • I’m going to download a new entertaining fiction summer book to read during my downtime. (any suggestions??)

4. Use my Mentagram app - If I start to get that itch to shop I will try using this phone app to log my feelings. This will provide a pause and it will also force me to consider what it is I’m really looking for at the moment. Do I really want to shop or am I using the shopping as a means to escape or avoid something else? This app reminds me to consider what I'm feeling and really searching for at the moment by asking these type of questions:

  • What is your current mood?

  • Describe what is triggering you the most to shop right now.

  • What would feel good about shopping?

  • What would feel bad about shopping?

  • Where would you suffer the most negative consequences if you decided to shop now and how strong would they be?

  • Underneath, think about what are you really searching for.?

  • What is a small positive achievable step you can think of that will meet that need?

5. Use my time to do something else I enjoy. Writing is something I love doing and when I’m spending too much time shopping, trying on things and returning things I am taking up time that I could be writing. For years, shopping gave me an excuse to not write. I was always afraid to write…afraid I wouldn’t be any good…that no one would like anything I wrote. So I believe part of the reason I shop so much is to avoid facing those fears. Shopping not only let me forget those fears, it occupied so much of my time that I often would say I didn’t have any time to write. Now, with much encouragement and support I am finally facing these fears. I must write…it is inside me. So now I hope to spend more time writing than shopping!

6. Put together my financial plan. I need to stop avoiding this and take a good look at what I really owe on my credit card and construct a plan to pay it off. At the same time I would like to put together a pre-season spending plan. I’d like to develop a rough draft of items I may want to purchase in the next few months and determine how much money I should save each month for those purchases and how much I should put toward paying off my credit card. Doing this now will remind me that I currently shouldn’t spend any more and will push me further away from the sale! Additionally, it may help to read one or both of these educational books that relate to breaking the spending cycle and getting my finances in order.

Anthony Ongaro’s Break The Twitch: a practical guide to minimalism, intentional living & doing more of what matters

Jerry Mundis

How to Get Out of Debt, Stay Out of Debt, and Live Prosperously*: Based on the Proven Principles and Techniques of Debtors Anonymous

Those are the top approaches I will take to avoid shopping the Nordstrom sale, but I admit I’m only 80% certain that I will succeed! Why only 80%? I think it is because I am still coming off the excessive summer shopping I did, knowing how I continued to shop even though my brain knew I shouldn’t. Why do I believe I might succeed? I have had enough. I truly want to break this cycle. I have something to prove to myself. I do not want to relive the feelings I had last September. I want to push through this obstacle course and come out this time with the gold medal. I have to keep my eye on the prize of getting to September without added debt, but instead with the added confidence that I can achieve what I set out to do!

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