Confessions of an Ex-Shopaholic: How Debbie Roes’ Blog & Books Help Shoppers Kick Their Buying Addiction
Updated: 9.27.16 Online Shopping

Confessions of an Ex-Shopaholic: How Debbie Roes’ Blog & Books Help Shoppers Kick Their Buying Addiction

By: Lindsey Carman

The Crunch: Shopaholism (also known as compulsive buying addiction) has become a negative consequence of consumerism. About 7% of Americans suffer from this disorder, and some go their entire lives unaware of their addiction. It took Debbie Roes, the author of Recovering Shopaholic, several decades to come to grips with her shopping addiction and find ways to overcome it. In 2013, Debbie started blogging about her shopping habits to hold herself accountable and inspire other shopaholics to get their spending under control. Two successful books and thousands of readers later, Debbie continues to encourage shopaholics to kick their bad habits and trade their full closet in for a full life.

In 2012, Debbie’s closet reflected her current state of life: cluttered, incohesive, and chaotic. She had blazers, jeans, purses, shoes, and scarves piled everywhere, even items that still had the price tags attached. At the peak of her shopping addiction, Debbie would buy about 200 pieces of clothing a year. If you were to ask her why she shopped so much, she’d tell you that she was reinventing her style; but in reality, Debbie let the fleeting thrill of finding sales and buying clothes take over her life. 

Most people joke about being a ‘shopaholic,’ or deny that it’s even a real disease, but having a shopping addiction is becoming a real concern for some consumers. About 7% of Americans suffer from compulsive buying habits, which roughly makes up 20 million people in this country alone. Bringing awareness to this disorder is necessary to help shopaholics turn their spending habits around.

Recovering Shopaholic, a blog that offers advice on how to overcome shopping addiction, was Debbie’s solution to battling her compulsive buying habits. Since 2013, Debbie’s blog posts and books have helped thousands of readers understand what shopaholism is, become aware of what that behavior looks like, and learn ways to recover. As the rise of American consumerism makes it more difficult for shopaholics to say ‘no’ to frequent shopping trips, Debbie has become a strong voice for the shopaholic community to help addicts kick bad spending habits to the curb.

An Ex-Shopaholic’s Confessions Help Others With Their Addictions

If anyone understands what it means to be a shopaholic, it’s Debbie. Starting in her teen years, she’s battled compulsive shopping habits and has struggled to stick to a clothing budget during the early years of her marriage. Being a wardrobe consultant didn’t help her, either. Debbie’s shopping habits made her a prisoner to debt. Even after she became debt-free, Debbie still hit the sale racks and came home with bags full of clothes. There wasn’t a ‘rock bottom’ moment or other crisis that turned Debbie’s life around. After the fleeting moment of satisfaction faded, she had this pit in her stomach that something needed to change.

A photo of Debbie Roes, the creator of Recovering Shopaholic

Debbie Roes is the author of Recovering Shopaholic.

“Before, I had debt and had gotten out of it, but I never really addressed the [underlying] issue,” Debbie said. “I tried to increase my awareness because that often helps us change.”

When Debbie launched Recovering Shopaholic, she wasn’t sure who’d read it, but she did know that being open and transparent about her shopaholic recovery would encourage other addicts to examine their own lives — and, most importantly, their closets. In her early blog posts, she shares with readers the trials of taming an out-of-control closet and sorting through piles of never worn or barely used clothing. As a Certified Life Coach, Debbie’s background in Counseling Psychology helps consumers go beyond emptying out their closets; they can grasp the underlying issues of shopaholism to help them understand their behavior.

Having been in the shoes of a shopping addict has helped Debbie connect with thousands of people who suffer from compulsive buying habits across the world. She even made a private Facebook group called “End Closet Chaos” to create a safe place for shopaholics to converse. The close-knit community now brings about 800 people together to share stories and encouragement with others. What started as a few honest blog posts soon encouraged fellow shopaholics to open up about their own struggles in a secure environment.

Debbie’s Books Offer Tips & Tricks on How to Battle Shopaholism

Debbie’s wish to help people trade their full closets for fuller lives transitioned from writing blog posts to writing two helpful books that guide readers down the road to recovery.

A photo of Debbie Roes holding her e-book, UnShopping

Debbie’s personal experiences and tips help shopaholics take control of their closets and their lives.

When she noticed that the Recovery Tips page was teeming with posts, she decided to consolidate all her advice into two books, UnShopping: Recovering Solutions from an Ex-Shopaholic and End Closet Chaos: Wardrobe Solutions from an Ex-Shopaholic. Debbie shares anecdotes and easy tricks like the “the Hanger Trick” — an organizational system that helps people track how often they wear clothes by turning a hanger in the opposite direction — to help shopaholics take baby steps in managing their wardrobe nightmare.

“When I first started my blog, I really didn’t know who would read it,” Debbie said. “I thought, ‘Oh, it’d be great if I could get a small group of people reading it, and we can help each other.'”

Her books aren’t just for shopaholics, either. Anyone who struggles with a ‘shopping challenge’ or ‘closet chaos’ can benefit from her insightful advice and proven methods. Debbie’s creative and comprehensive books steer readers away from the store to tackle their cluttered closets instead.

UnShopping: Recovery Solutions from an Ex-Shopaholic

Debbie’s first book, UnShopping: Recovering Solutions from an Ex-Shopaholic, sums up all of her best shopping solutions from the blog. Each chapter is categorized into shopping-related situations readers might face, and offers tips on how to avoid those sticky scenarios. Let’s say you struggle with buying ‘wardrobe orphans,’ those alluring pieces of clothing that end up living in your closet for years. UnShopping takes you through the list of reasons why it’s smart and imperative to only buy items that’ll match something else you own. Otherwise, it may never get worn and become money that’s thrown down the drain.

UnShopping starts with 12 quick tips on how to become a smarter shopper and dives deeper into understanding your shopping behavior with honest questions and examples. If anyone struggles with resale shopping, shopping with friends, and holiday shopping agendas, this book is a great way to get back on track.

End Closet Chaos: Wardrobe Solutions from an Ex-Shopaholic 

End Closet Chaos: Wardrobe Solutions from an Ex-Shopaholic focuses on wardrobe-management problems and strategies. In the beginning of the book, Debbie addresses what a normal-sized wardrobe should look like and how to tame a wild closet. Most people struggle with staying organized and have lost count of how many pieces of clothing they actually own. End Closet Chaos helps readers take control step-by-step and solve ‘closet conundrums.’

Some of the book’s general topics include wardrobe management, closet organization, wardrobe tracking, and how to minimize any closet. Once readers implement Debbie’s easy tricks and tips, they will breathe a sigh of relief because they will have taken back control of their closet.

Self-Awareness is Key to Avoiding Marketing Pitfalls & Endless Sales

Although Debbie is the first to admit that her shopping addiction started from her own doing, the retail industry hasn’t made it any easier for shopaholics to ditch the racks and clear out their closets. Mailed coupons, weekly sales, and Internet and TV ads entice consumers to shop more; it’s like dangling candy in front of a kid with a sweet tooth.

Let’s say you receive a Bath & Body Works coupon in the mail. You can get a free product (up to $10 value) when you spend $15 in-store, and the coupon will expire that week. Getting a free item is exciting, so you rush to the nearest Bath & Body Works and redeem the coupon. Little did you know Bath & Body Works just enticed you to make a purchase that you otherwise wouldn’t have made.

A screenshot of Recovering Shopaholic's homepage

Debbie encourages shopaholics to become aware of their spending habits and the retail industry’s marketing tactics.

Even though retailers most likely won’t change the giant shift toward marketing frequency, shopaholics can create awareness for their spending habits to avoid pitfalls. One of Debbie’s best pieces of advice, ‘Don’t buy something on sale that you wouldn’t buy at full price,” is just one way to stay cognizant of when you’re buying necessary and unnecessary products. When a shopper keeps this tip in mind, chances are he or she will shop smarter.

“People like me need to adapt to it and need to understand what the retail industry is doing so we can act in our own best interest,” Debbie said. “I think awareness is a big key.”

Trade Your Full Closet for a Full Life with Recovering Shopaholic

If you were to open Debbie’s closet today, you’d see neat color-coded tops and bottoms on hangers. It took her a couple of years to make her closet look this way, but Debbie believes anyone’s closet can be transformed just like hers.

Overcoming shopaholism means much more than emptying out your closet, Debbie says. Shopaholics need to self-examine the root of their shopping behavior and understand the real reason why they hit the racks. The road to recovery isn’t easy, but Debbie is there to help shopaholics become more self-aware and find a working solution for everyday life.

“People need to understand what they really want. I think that we often go along and have this default behavior,” Debbie said.  “The more interactive we can be with things, the more we’ll get it in our bones.”

In the future, Debbie would like to create workbooks that’ll help consumers implement healthy wardrobe and spending habits into their daily lives. Debbie believes most people need a road map, so having workbooks would help reinforce her helpful tips and tricks. As of now, Debbie will continue to impact the lives of shopaholics around the world, helping them clean out their closets and restore their lives.