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Shopping Addict Who Ordered New Clothes Online Almost Every Night Places Herself On A Year-Long Spending Ban

Zoe was ordering clothes online almost every day (PA Real Life/Collect)

Zoe Paterson would describe herself as a shopping addict.


She ordered new clothes online virtually every day and was so mortified by the volume of her packages that she sent her returns from different Post Office branches.

Now, she embarked on a one-year "no spend" challenge.

Paterson said her habit had spiralled so beyond her control that her online spending sprees became an almost nightly event.

Often ordering the same item in a variety of colors, she would have so much to send back that she kept a diary of her orders and outstanding refunds, and was too embarrassed to ship it all from one place. So. she drove around sharing her returns between different Post Offices.

Zoe surrounded by her clothes (PA Real Life/Collect)

But she has bravely cracked her habits by banning herself from buying any new clothes, shoes or accessories for 365 days.

“My shopping habit got ridiculous," she said. “I would online shop almost every day. I'd return a fair bit, too, so it was hard to keep track of exactly what I was spending. I'd say it was at least a few hundred a month."

“I got so embarrassed by how often I was going to the Post Office to send back items that I would drive around different branches. My car boot would be full to the brim with parcels – 10 at a time."

All Zoe's black boots (PA Real Life/Collect)

“I paid a one-off fee for a years' worth of free next day deliveries on one site. When the year was up, I got an email saying I had saved £1,715 in delivery charges from that site alone. I worked out that would have been 280 orders – about five a week – just from that one shop," she added.

By the end of 2019, Porter was feeling completely overwhelmed by her ever-expanding wardrobe and decided to take drastic action, placing herself on a year-long spending ban.

Now, five months in, she has completely changed her mindset and believes she has finally kicked her shopping addiction for good.

Zoe modelling her clothes (PA Real Life/Collect)

“If you're thinking of doing this yourself, you have to find the benefits that are right for you," she explained.

“For some people, they will be financial, for others environmental. For me, it has been learning to appreciate what I already have and find happiness in life's simple things."

“For example, for the past few years, I have wanted to do up my patio and driveway, but could never afford it, but doing this challenge has changed that."

Zoe restyling her clothes since giving up spending (PA Real Life/Collect)

Growing up, Porter was always interested in fashion and had a childhood penchant for collecting purses.

Then, she would pore through magazines, cutting out pictures of outfits she liked before heading out to the shops to buy as close a replica as possible.

“I don't really follow trends as such – I have quite a classic, minimalist style – but I have always really enjoyed shopping," she said.

“I'd go through phases. For example, about six years ago, it was all about shoes. I would order six pairs at a time. I wouldn't necessarily keep them all, but it was still excessive."

Zoe's skinny jeans collection (PA Real Life/Collect)

“Then I'd move on to bags, then jeans, which I racked up 48 pairs of. I didn't even realize that wasn't normal until I spoke to friends who told me they only had two or three pairs," Porter added.

Later on she would scroll through social media and pick her favorite outfits the same way she would in magazines.

“I would see pictures of outfits I liked and click straight off Instagram and onto the internet to track them down, so I could buy them – picking up various other items on the way," she continued.


“Targeted adverts were also a problem. Once I'd bought one thing, I'd be bombarded with recommendations for something similar," she added.

“It was like I was constantly trying to find the ideal item – the perfect pair of boots, the perfect jeans, the perfect handbag."

By 2019, Zoe began to feel completely overwhelmed and struggled to keep track of what she had ordered.

But, whenever she had a little clear out and donated some unwanted items to charity, she always found she felt “lighter."

“That got me thinking about how much better I would feel if I really went for it and stopped all the spending," she said.
“I had so many clothes already and was still buying more. I asked myself when I would feel I had enough? When would I be happy with what I owned?"

“It sounds morbid, but I even started thinking about what would happen to all my material possessions if I wasn't here. What would the point in it all have been?"

So, Porter set herself the ambitious goal of going for the entire year without buying clothes, shoes or accessories.

Zoe modelling her clothes (PA Real Life/Collect)

Setting up an Instagram account to keep herself on track, she found an entire community of like-minded people known as a "no spend" or "no shopping year."

“I've followed other challenges before, like Veganuary, or giving things up for Lent, and have always been really strict, so I didn't understand why shopping had been so hard to kick," she said.

“Finding other people doing the same thing really helped, though. We would share tips on how to stay on track, and how to style the clothes we already owned, so we weren't tempted to buy anything new."

Zoe restyling her clothes since giving up spending (PA Real Life/Collect)

“In time, my social media feeds were no longer full of people encouraging me to buy. I wasn't seeing the latest trends anymore, or being led by what was in the shops," she added. “The support gave me such a boost."

On a few occasions, Porter admits she has almost fallen off the wagon. But she has not caved in, sticking resolutely to her no shopping goal.

Some of Zoe's cosy jumpers (PA Real Life/Collect)

“There have been times where it has been difficult, but I kept asking myself, 'Why do you need this?' and 'Do you have anything like this already?'" she continued.

“Learning more about fashion waste and how much ends up rotting away in a landfill every year, kept me on track, too. Whenever I felt tempted to buy, I would think about that and it was an incentive to keep going."

“I don't want to contribute to that. The world can't take the amount of waste as it is."

As well as reaping financial and environmental benefits, Porter has found her general mental wellbeing has improved.

“It was almost a nightly thing, coming home from work to a stack of packages waiting for me, which I'd then try on, organize into what I was keeping and what I wasn't, then race to the Post Office to sort out my returns," she said.

“Now I have saved hundreds already. Rather than focusing my spare time and money on clothes, I'm appreciating spending it on my house and garden. I have the time to potter about and enjoy the garden now. I am free of that stress and have that time back."

Zoe restyling her clothes since giving up spending (PA Real Life/Collect)

By sharing her story, Porter is hoping to encourage others to follow suit. Particularly urging people to stop ordering non-essential items at the moment.

“I know people are very reliant on social media to stay in touch, especially right now, but I would advise unfollowing everyone that encourages you to spend," she said.

“You don't need to see bloggers unwrapping these huge clothing hauls – especially when they are more than likely being paid to promote them."

Zoe modeling her clothes (PA Real Life/Collect)

“I'd also say that if you ever feel tempted to spend, take the money you would have splurged on clothes and put it in a different account. That way, you will really open your eyes to what you're saving, and how quickly it adds up," she said.

“My mindset has completely changed now, and I can't see myself ever going back. Even when my challenge is over, I will be shopping more in charity shops and buying second hand rather than new stuff."

“This whole thing has made me take a step back and realize that there is lots of joy and appreciation to be found in what I already own. I don't need more."

Zoe has embarked on a 'no spend year' to kick her shopping habit (PA Real Life/Collect)

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“It is estimated that there are six per cent of the UK population now addicted to shopping, predominately woman and young people – although this may be higher with online shopping now so popular," Alma Griffith, a psychotherapist counsellor of Mindserenity.co.uk, said.

“Warning signs include a pre-occupation with buying or shopping, using shopping to relieve negative emotions and hiding or lying about purchases and expenditure."

She says there are underlying problems leading to this situation.

"Behind the behavior is an underlying chronic psychological drive – a coping mechanism that forces the individual to pursue reward by compulsive buying, whether they can afford to or not," she said.

Follow Zoe on Instagram @new_year_old_clothes