We’ve all made purchases on impulse, whether it be that candy bar at the checkout line in the grocery store or that pair of shoes that you come across that would go perfectly with your new tailored suit or the dress you bought last week. Impulse buying is a major weakness for many, and has its own problems. However, the major problem is when the threshold is crossed from simply buying on impulse here and there to compulsive buying, which can be a disorder that brings about adverse consequences.
Do you often purchase things you don’t need or never use? Feel a rush of excitement or euphoria from the act of buying? Are your purchases followed with feelings of guilt or remorse? Answering questions such as these with a yes may indicate that you are a compulsive buyer, or “shopaholic”. The use of credit cards plays a large role into spending habits. Shopaholics tend to lie to themselves and say that they’ll pay off debts some time in the near future, or they justify their compulsive purchases by figuring that they can live below their means for the time being. There are many signs to this potential problem but there are also steps and actions that can be taken to handle it.
Here are six steps you can take to break the grip of a compulsive spending habit:
1) Admit that you have a problem.
This is often the classic first step of dealing with an addiction or habit. Don’t stay in denial or lie to yourself, especially when the consequences of your problem become apparent to others around you. In doing so you will also be able to sort out feelings and take the necessary steps to put forth your best efforts to cure your addiction.
2) Find what triggers your impulses to shop.
For some, buying is often the result of feelings of disappointment, frustration, or anxiety. The problem is, compulsive shopping can often lead to more of these feelings, especially the remorse felt after purchases, and eventually lead to a shopping addiction. Shopping to “fill a void” is a common sign of being a shopaholic. The “filling a void” is often a motive in other habits or problems such as substance abuse or eating disorders. Find healthy new activities, hobbies, or outlets to deal with these emotional situations. So the next time you may have an argument with your significant other or feel a bit lonely on the weekend, it’s best to avoid shopping by all means and put your energy into something more constructive for your benefit.
3) Cancel the credit cards.
Yes, it sounds very hard to do and I like my credit cards as much as the next person, but if there is a problem you have to cancel your credit cards. Compulsive spenders often feel lost without credit cards. Cut them up and get rid of them….completely. Forget about holding onto them just in case, or storing them away for that rainy day. It won’t hurt to carry cash, that way you’ll be spending money that you actually have. Credit cards are not the world, there are ways to do without them, especially since you have having trouble working with them. Credit cards bring a lot of convenience and perks to our spending but can also be a very bad temptation in your wallet if you cannot control it. That’s it.
4) Avoid the touch of temptation.
If a majority of your spending takes place in the department store, then stay out of there. Avoid going to places like the mall, where impulses can be triggered all too easily. If online shopping is your big weakness, avoid those sites where you often dish out money.
5) Keep track of how much money you spend.
People with a spending addiction often turn a blind eye to how much money they actually spend. This is especially due to the temporary feelings of excitement they get and their own justification they give themselves. When it comes to spending, habits especially add up. By tracking your everyday spending, you can identify patterns and then address them. After you have a feel for where the money is going you should create a monthly budget for yourself to follow.
6) Seek help if you need.
Committing to a program or method of dealing with a habit can be challenging, and is often easier said than done. It’s okay to find support from loved ones or even get professional help. You may need some form of therapy to guide you and that’s fine, at least you’re doing what you can about the problem.
If you find yourself living the life of a shopaholic and are ready to make changes, then it’s time to step up and make a beneficial commitment, keeping the 6 aforementioned steps in mind. No more spending money you don’t have, feeling guilty or remorseful, or lying to yourself and others about your spending habits. All the unworn shoes and unopened items sitting in the closet or around the house are a testament to a problematic habit. Don’t let the bills and problems keep adding up. Free yourself from compulsive spending. In the long run it will truly pay off.
Author: KC Beavers
KC Beavers is a semi-retired entrepreneur. The subject of personal finance has always fascinated him. In an effort to not bore those around him with all his love of personal finance as much he has come here to bore all of you instead.