legs of woman enjoy shopping on the mall center, hand holding shopping, buying and shopping consumerism, enjoy shopping in sale summer time discount store

My Shopping Addiction Rehab Program

Shopping is my thing. I love the thrill of the hunt, that feeling of discovery, and the joy of a bargain. I find it satisfying in ways I cannot fully describe. I want to experience the feeling as often as possible. Shopper’s high is no joke. It’s real, it’s palpable, and it’s addictive.

legs of woman enjoy shopping on the mall center, hand holding shopping, buying and shopping consumerism, enjoy shopping in sale summer time discount store

Shopping got me into a lot of trouble. In just 12 years I ran up more than $100,000 in consumer debt—yep, on more than 35 credit cards. (Adjusted for inflation, $100,000 in 1980 is equal to $363,497 in 2022. Whew!)

Eventually, all of it came crashing down and nearly took me with it. Thankfully, that crisis became the catalyst to turn my life around.

It took 13 years to repay all of the debt—every penn of it including interest, penalties, fees. I learned a lot about myself in the process but mostly that the satisfaction I got from shopping was short-lived. It was fake because it vanished in less time than it took me to get the stuff to the car. But that just set me up to do it again and again because the small bursts of joy I got from shopping were worth the pain that always followed.

Crazy I know, but absolutely true. I could so easily go back to my old ways, and that’s scary.

So, what keeps me on the straight and narrow? It’s you! You’re my shopping addiction rehab program. Paying off that monstrous debt and these 30 years of writing, researching, and communicating with you on a daily basis have become the kind of maintenance program I could only hope for.

And the best part? I get to use my shopping skills nearly every day, but now in a constructive way.

Take the email I got from Jeannine who asked simply, “What is the best inexpensive Bluetooth speaker?” Just like that, I flew into shopping mode—that thing I love to do because it brings me uncanny satisfaction.

But here’s the deal: I’m not shopping for myself. I’m not spending my money or creating a bit of debt. I’m researching for Jeannine and that frees me from all of the personal negative stuff. I get to experience the joys of shopping that I love so much without any of the remorse, regret, guilt, or shame. That’s authentic, lasting satisfaction. I love my job.

I did go shopping for Jeannine and a few other readers whose requests showed up at about the same time.

Bluetooth speaker


Bluetooth and wireless speakers let you bring your favorite music, podcasts, and audiobooks with you wherever you go, whether you’re out on a hike or in the kitchen doing dishes—without the need to use headphones or depend on the phone’s or iPad’s microscopic built-in speaker. My pick for the best inexpensive Bluetooth speaker is Anker SoundCore 2. This thing is amazing with 24-hour playtime, low distortion, and superior sound.

Stainless Coffee Mug


Coffee lovers are discriminate when it comes to both the quantity and temperature of their favorite brew. Zojirushi Silky Black Stainless Steel 16-ounce Mug represents the gold standard. There is no finer. Retains heat so well it comes with a 5-year warranty on heat retention! And did I mention 16-ounces? No wonder this coffee mug has earned so many 5-star reviews. It’s that lovely.

Kids Electronic Tablet


These days children start very young with electronic devices. The problem though is that kids are kids and most smartphones and tablets are too delicate to handle toddler abuse. With that in mind, my pick for your favorite little ones is Kids Amazon Fire 7 Edition Tablet. This is the real deal—not a toy, but built like one because it is all but indestructible.

This tablet has a 7-inch screen, 16 GB, Wi-Fi, and all of it surrounded by a kid-proof case then wrapped up in a 2-year worry-free guarantee. If it breaks for any reason, return it and you’ll get a free replacement no questions asked. Complete with front and rear cameras, and best-in-class parental controls.

One year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited gives access to 10,000 kid-friendly books, movies, TV shows, educational apps, and content from PBS Kids, Nickelodeon, Disney and more. Wow. I want one.


Fitbit Charge 5


This must be the gift of the year given all the people I know who are dying to get one. Worn, Fitbit Charge 5 continuously monitors heart pulse, calorie burn, and heart rate. 7-Day battery life. Automatically tracks how long and how well you sleep and even wakes you up with a silent vibrating alarm. Fitbit Charge 5 comes complete with GPS that allows you to see real-time stats when you run—things like pace and distance, all while on your wrist. It even displays the time, just like something from the olden days called a wristwatch. For sure, Fitbit is stylish, hip, and cool.


Portable Battery Charger


Don’t you hate it when your phone or other device dies and you’re nowhere near an outlet? So did the creators of this amazing little Anker Portable Charger External Battery Power Bank. Just plug your device into it and you’ll get a super quick charge. About the size of an index card, this thing has a huge capacity.

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6 replies
  1. Linda Radosevich says:

    Just a word of congratulations to you for overcoming that shopping addiction! Thank you for taking your experiences and sharing them with us – you took lemons and made lemonade!

  2. cheryl says:

    When i used to take my little niece and nephew shopping,(they are now all grown.) I would use the,
    Today is a LOOK day, not a BUY day.” which means you can pick it up, touch it, but we are only looking, nothing is being bought. I would then tell them we could put it on the buy list, and usually once that was done, they were satisfied….and wound up forgetting about it. On buy day they had a limit that they could spend usually 3.00 until age 10 then I upped it t 10.00. On buy days, I’d be sneaky and take them to a bookstore….they were always so happy to get to pick out their own books, and spend their money!! I got the bonus of knowing that they were reading of their OWN FREE WILL!!

  3. Paul says:

    Hi Mary – my Mom always shares your columns with me and my sister. Great stuff! Question: do you have any recommendations on the best USB rechargeable headlamps?

  4. Ann says:

    Hi Mary,
    I’m not sure if I am or was an addictive shopper, but I do know I was heading that way. So, here are a few ways I’ve slowed myself down. First if I need an outfit for a special occasion, I “shop” in my own closet and usually find something appropriate. Next, when I do go to a store, I grab a shopping cart and put items in that I think are “cute” etc and always on sale. I walk around the store, picking things up and before I check out, I take another look in my cart and decide if I like the item as well as I did, the first time around. More that once the answer is no and I put everything back. I also add up the items and again decide if I really, really want them, again probably no. I never try anything on, unless there’s a strong possibility that I will buy it. So in the end, I’ve been shopping and have gotten that out of my system and more than once have walked out of a store empty handed, but the credit cards are still intact.


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