Habit Binge

I spent £5K on takeaways and ended up with £38K shopping addiction debt

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LOGGING on to clothes retailer Asos at midnight, Yasmine Camilla quickly adds £1,900 worth of dresses and boots to her shopping basket and checks out. 

When the parcel arrives two days later, her heart races with a mixture of excitement and regret as she tears open the bag and looks through her purchases.

Yasmin Camilla says she would happily put £3,500 on a credit card for a family holiday to Portugal and not think about how it would be paid off

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Yasmin Camilla says she would happily put £3,500 on a credit card for a family holiday to Portugal and not think about how it would be paid offCredit: David Cummings
Yasmine's shopping addiction saw her racking up £38,000 worth of debt on credit cards and buy-now-pay-later services

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Yasmine’s shopping addiction saw her racking up £38,000 worth of debt on credit cards and buy-now-pay-later servicesCredit: David Cummings

This is Yasmine’s third delivery in the space of just one week, having already ordered a £300 indoor swing for her children Callum, eight, and Amber, six, plus a pair of £500 boots. 

Yasmine, 38, a project manager and freelance content creator, says of the fashion buys: “They were totally unnecessary 

“We were in the middle of lockdown so I didn’t need to buy fancy clothes. 

“But after the kids had gone to bed, I’d spend three hours browsing internet shops. 

“I was spending money on stuff I would probably never wear.” 

Yasmine’s late-night binge was not unusual for her, though. She developed a shopping addiction after coming out of a long-term relationship in 2019 — racking up £38,000 worth of debt on credit cards and buy-now-pay-later services. 

Sold car to help pay

She says: “Before my relationship ended and Covid hit, I could spend anything I wanted.

“I’d happily put £3,500 on a credit card for a family holiday to Portugal and not think about how it would be paid off. 

“I had a good job then and was earning well so felt that it didn’t matter.”

But 2020 hit Yasmine hard and instead of saving she started spending, sometimes thousands of pounds a day — despite her freelance work drying up entirely for eight months during the pandemic.

Yasmine, from Penge, South East London, managed to keep on top of her household bills and rent but confesses her sprees got worse while she was bored at home during lockdown. 

She says: “I would spend £500 on two pairs of boots from Irregular Choice. 

“They were on sale but I have never worn them and they’re both still in their boxes. Buy-now-pay-later made things easier as well. Paying something off in instalments would make it seem cheaper.”

Her addiction did not stop at clothes, though. 

She also splashed out on a fashionable Peloton exercise bike for £2,300.

She says: “I saw it on social media and had to have it, but I haven’t used it loads and now I just hang my clothes on it.”

She paid £600 for a piece of art, too, and £400 on a mirror after seeing it on Instagram — even though friends showed her a similar one for £50 from B&M.

Takeaways were another huge expense, with Yasmine blowing £5,000 on Deliveroo in a year. She says: “I loved to order expensive sushi. Pizza Express was a treat as well. I’d order my groceries via Deliveroo because I couldn’t get any supermarket delivery slots.” 

In July, Callum asked if he could have his own bedroom and not share with his sister, and Yasmine started working out how much it would cost her to convert the loft — but realised she had built up £38,000 in debt. 

She says: “I felt shocked. I froze. It was nearly £40,000 — that felt huge. It was a trigger moment.” 

58% of compulsive shoppers have worryingly large debts

She immediately started cutting back and sold her Peugeot car for £5,000, choosing to borrow her nan’s car instead. She also sold some clothes to recoup funds, gave up Deliveroo and cut her grocery bill from £500 a month to £150. 

Now Yasmine has paid off £7,000 of debt and shares her story regularly on TikTok. 

She says: “Many have attacked me for having so much debt and being careless — and they are right, I was. 

“But others have told me I am brave for breaking the taboo. 

“I’m proud of myself for working my way out of this and hope that in two years I will be debt-free.” 

Research has found around five per cent of Brits are shopping addicts — and 92 per cent of them are women. 

Psychologist Sarah Gregg, author of Choose Happy: Easy Strategies To Find Your Bliss, says: “Signs of problematic shopping behaviour include excessively thinking about shopping, frequently buying more than can be afforded and investing too much time and energy into shopping, adversely impacting on other important life areas.

“Shopping may seem harmless because it’s just clothes, but an increasing body of evidence suggests that shopping addiction has the same behavioural symptoms as chemical addiction, including craving, withdrawal and loss of control.”

Fashion student Yasmin Welch has so many clothes she has to wade through black bin bags full of them just to get to bed each night.

Yasmin, 19, says: “I know I have way too much stuff, but I just can’t help myself. 

“My room has become a giant wardrobe. I’ve been forced to stuff everything into bin bags because my wardrobe is overflowing, which I hate.

“I like to be organised so my dad is building me a shed for all of my overflow. 

The crazy thing is, I will never wear all of this stuff. There are dozens of items in my wardrobe that still have tags on. I’ll never get rid of them.

“People have told me I need help but I do what I do because I love it. If someone doesn’t like that then it’s on them.”

Yasmin, from Harwich, Essex, buys around 15 items of clothing a week, mainly vintage designer pieces that she picks up at car boot sales and charity shops.

Battling for space

She says: “If I do miss a car boot, for whatever reason, I find myself getting anxious in case I’m missing out on amazing finds — I get FOMO [fear of missing out].”

Her best find was a pair of Chanel 2003 sunglasses she picked up in a house clearance for £1. 

She says: “My heart was racing. It was such a thrill. 

“I wear prescription lenses so I couldn’t keep them but I sold them on for just over £200 which helped to fund future sprees. I also bagged a Gucci bangle for £3.” 

Yasmin’s father, Daniel, 48, who refurbishes cars and sells them on, is worried about her spending and has asked her to start paying her way at home.

She says: “I’m hoping to get a part-time job. I would rather work more than give up shopping. 

“I do worry about how much I am spending — currently I have about £3 to my name and there are times when I will really struggle and have to ask my parents for a loan. 

“I have been in debt to pay-later sites a few times, only by about £50 — but as I’m only 19 that is quite scary. 

“But I have no plans to cut back on spending. 

“I’m just going to work harder to be able to keep up my habit. I am now applying for weekend jobs to fund my shopping addiction, as well as selling my own T-shirt designs online, which brings in around £400 a month.” 

Daniel confesses that while he supports his daughter’s enthusiasm for fashion, her mammoth collection has left him battling for space in his own home.

He says: “Despite the fact that it’s just me and Yasmin in the house, we’re running out of space so I’ve built her an outbuilding for her rather large collection of clothes and handbags.

“She loves the charity shops for bargains and when the car boot sales are open I sometimes dread how much she’s bringing back.”

Yasmin adds: “I’m hoping my mammoth wardrobe will be the thing that will earn me money in the future as a stylist.

“It may be cheesy but fashion is my passion and, in my eyes, every single thing I add to my wardrobe will help me to my dream career.”

Fashion student Yasmin Welch has so many clothes she has to wade through black bin bags full of them just to get to bed each night

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Fashion student Yasmin Welch has so many clothes she has to wade through black bin bags full of them just to get to bed each nightCredit: Stewart Williams
Yasmin, from Harwich, Essex, buys around 15 items of clothing a week, mainly vintage designer pieces that she picks up at car boot sales and charity shops

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Yasmin, from Harwich, Essex, buys around 15 items of clothing a week, mainly vintage designer pieces that she picks up at car boot sales…

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