Splurge a little on 3 books that offer advice on spending, saving

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By Kendra Nordin
Sunday, May 23, 2010


Memoirs of a shopping addict

By Avis Cardella

Little, Brown and Co.

263 pp. $23.99

Everyone has a story about a penny-pinching great-auntie who darned her nylons instead of tossing them out. The resourcefulness of the Greatest Generation in tough times stands in stark contrast to today's accepted overspending.

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Avis Cardella chronicles her shopping addiction in "Spent: Memoirs of a Shopping Addict." As a teenager in the 1970s, she devoured her mother's fashion magazines, skipped college to become a model, and then a fashion editor and writer, flourishing as the beautiful companion of successful men. Her growing dependency on appearance for self-esteem meant that any emotional pain, such as relationship uncertainty or grief over her mother's untimely death, was quieted by expensive purchases.

Cardella compares shopping to a hit of heroin: Her senses were heightened by an illusion of power and control until the fantasy evaporated. The back of her closet swelled with never-used purchases, some even in their original shopping bags.

In her all-consuming addiction, Cardella postponed any serious considerations of purpose until the day she moved into a studio apartment without a man or a steady job. All the while, collection agencies called nonstop.

"Spent" is an intriguing look at a woman trying to escape the two-dimensional world of fashion that cultivates a dependency between consumers and the empty promises of luxury goods. If you have fallen for the siren call of designer labels or just enjoy watching the rich and beautiful stumble, "Spent" provides a contemporary look at the havoc that insatiable wants can create when unchecked and the triumph of finally facing them down.

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