I have a shopping problem, specifically an online shopping problem. Lately I’ve just been buying too much stuff, and a lot of stuff that, when it came down to it, didn’t work out as well as I imagined it would when I bought it.

I think my shopping habit got a bit out of hand when I was pregnant and started using it as a coping mechanism when I was worried about all the overwhelming changes going on. Being a new parent is overwhelming too, and so I just seemed to continue (it really is freakishly easy to shop on your phone when you’re half-conscious while breastfeeding at night), and before I knew it I had accumulated a pile of clothes and home decor items I really could have done without.

Weirdly, I have no problem at all with over-shopping in brick and mortar stores. Mostly I think this is because I don’t particularly like browsing in stores, but there’s also the fact that online shopping is designed to be so, so convenient (kudos to the people whose job it is to lower the threshold for purchasing something from Nordstrom online, you all are too good at your jobs) not to mention the element of fantasy there is to online shopping – it is all too easy to fool myself into thinking the midi skirt I’m looking at will look as good on me as it does in the pictures, even though I’ve never in my life met a midi skirt that didn’t make me look stumpy.

It might seem like the obvious solution would be to stop shopping online and limit myself to purchases in brick and mortar stores instead. Unfortunately, I actually don’t think that would be a good solution for me, because┬ámost of the things I would want to buy are not really available in stores around where I live, or the cost is disproportionately higher than buying online.

I briefly considered setting a budget as a way to limit my online shopping, but there are a couple of reasons why I don’t think that would work too well for me. First,my shopping problem isn’t first and foremost a financial problem (I always spend less than I earn, save 10% of every paycheck for retirement etc.) – it’s really more a question of being thoughtful in my purchases, which a budget wouldn’t necessarily help with. Second, I’m trying to move from a quantity to a quality mindset and generally reduce the amount of stuff we have, and I worry that a spending limit might lead me to make some less than stellar buying decisions in order to get “more” out of the set amount.

However, it’s clear I need some sort of limits on shopping, lest I drown my whole family in J Crew cardigans and candle holders before we even get to Christmas. So, I’ve decided to limit my shopping to one item in the clothing/shoes/accessories category and one in the home decor category per month for the next year. Hopefully, I’ll consider my purchases more carefully and end up with items that I truly love. I’ve already been enjoying taking the time to decide what I’ll use my October items on and I think I’ve almost decided. I’ll be back with an update on that tomorrow!

Photo by Klaus Burmeister via Flickr (CC license)