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Are You A Shopaholic?

One in every 20 people in the USA spends money unnecessarily. Often these purchases are made on an impulse and have little to no regard for the actual need of the item. People with this compulsive need to shop are referred to as “shopaholics.” This disorder can cause catastrophic complications in both your financial and personal life. While studies show that this is a problem more prevalent in women than in men, men are not excluded altogether. The distinction is in the purchases made by men and women. Women tend to make many, individual purchases, therefore extending the shopping experience. Men tend to prefer single larger purchases. Men would rather go overboard buying something of a large scale, such as the latest model car, a boat or a motorcycle and the like as opposed to a woman who may shop for a new wardrobe.

The following set of questions will help a shopper recognize when there may be more of an issue with their shopping than just finances. Take the following quiz and answer with a “Yes” or “No.”

1. The best cure for depression in my opinion is shopping.
2. I have a house full of lovely things that I do not need or use.
3. I love the feeling I get when I buy something; and hate the down feeling I get a little after that.
4. I feel on the top of the world when I shop.
5. I cannot stop shopping when I like something, even when I know that I am in debt or cannot realistically afford the item.
6. I often decrease the amount when I tell my friends how much I spent.
7. I have problems at home regarding shopping all the time.
8. I know my shopping has to stop, but I cannot stop.
9. I cannot resist when I know there is a sale anywhere around me.
10. I have often lied to find time to go shopping.

If you have answered “Yes” to more than 4 questions, you could possibly be a shopaholic. It is important to take urgent remedial action before this compulsion has devastating consequences or causes irreparable damage to your finances or personal life.

What can you do about compulsive shopping?

This is a disorder just like alcoholism and other addictions. The first step is in recognizing that there is a problem. Then acknowledge that [you] must take active steps in order to curtail the destructive behavior. Using the 5 tips below the compulsive shopping can be addressed and damage to your financial stability minimized.

1. No credit cards – ban credit cards from your wallet/ handbag. In the rare case where you must have one, place a low spending limit on the credit card. When feasible do not carry the credit card. Be honest with yourself. If the only reason there is a credit card in your wallet is “just in case…” then you do not realistically need to carry the card at all times.

2. Make a list before any shopping trips – make a list of what you need to buy; whether it is groceries, clothes or any other items you need. Review the list and ensure that the purchases are actually “needs” and not “wants.” It is also beneficial to determine the stores from which the purchases will be made before you leave the house. Review your list often and focus on buying just the items on the list. Discipline and proper planning are imperative to overcoming a shopping compulsion.

3. Create a budget – Everyone knows the benefits of keeping a budget, however, are you actually making and keeping one? Use a budget to allocate funds covering all monthly expenses. A small portion of money should be designated for entertainment purposes. Just because you see the value of living on a budget, does not mean that you must deny yourself the simple joys of life.

4. Get help – debt counseling agencies are superb with putting people back in charge of their lives. Find a good debt counselor and engage in dialogue to correct financial mishaps and concerns. The cost of seeking professional services is an investment of priceless proportions.

5. Find other activities that provide satisfaction – look for hobbies, friendship, travel, sports – anything that will keep your mind engaged and happy in order to minimize the desire to shop compulsively.

Online Shopping – The Hidden Danger

There is a generally accepted mentality that a portion of the population is in serious debt because of consumerism. There is a constant battle of prestige between the “haves” and the “have– not” that has greatly influenced this struggle. It is true that banks have used unscrupulous methods for trapping consumers into outrageous credit card repayment terms. These credit card repayment terms are too good to pass up at first glance but quickly turn to impossible debts to control and repay. However, many experts say that if you find yourself in debt due to over-shopping or abuse of credit cards, you have only yourself to blame.

Understanding The Allure

Perhaps you have managed to overcome your tendency to rush towards any sale announced in your neighborhood. Let us say, that you are aware of the dangers of going out for window shopping and ending up with bags full of stuff. There is still the taunting allure of internet shopping, a convenient shopping utopia, that can lead even the most conscientious consumer astray from financial stability.

Internet shopping has become a preferred method for shopping for many consumers. Over indulging in purchases, that are clearly “wants,” has become effortless with just a click of a mouse. Email boxes are flooded daily with a bombardment of specials, one-day deals and internet savings. There are clubs and there are discount websites that keep tempting consumers with items that you are bound to love – but do not actually need. This type of blind shopping can quickly spiral out of control. Everyone can agree that the last place anyone wants to discover overspending is upon opening a credit card statement.

Steps To Take For Financially Sound Shopping

1. Unsubscribe from all email services that send discount or special offers. Not knowing what the offer is will prevent temptation.

2. For those emails that do get through, hit delete immediately without opening the email. The key is minimizing temptation.

3. Cancel all recurring payment purchases. Many times customers continue to pay for a product they are no longer using simply because they do not cancel these recurring payment programs. This can amount to significant savings over time.

4. Stop shopping online. Use only cash for shopping purchase. Try to shop in your immediate area.

5. Get help – If you feel that you are trying your best but cannot stay away from internet shopping, seek professional help. There are credit repair agencies that offer specialized counseling services in order to reign in the spending of an online shopper.

6. Start saving – Most people find that a maturing savings account give them a huge sense of security that is comparable to the high they have while shopping. Watching as your money grows and knowing that you have something stashed away for rainy days is a wonderful feeling.

7. Focus on indulging yourself every month – Put aside some money that you are allowed to spend any way you want. By allotting some budget to fun and frivolity, you will be able to stay free from further temptation.

8. Have your bank send you an updated balance after every debit purchase. Banks often offer the option to send a text message or email regarding any purchases made using a debit/ credit card. Ensure that this action is enabled. It is daunting to see your money diminish. Seeing the dollar and cent realities of your purchases can help to curtail unnecessary expenditures.

9. Get your family and friends to help you – Support from loved ones enables you to talk about your feelings and vent so that shopping does not become a crutch for emotional satisfaction.

10. Join forums or support groups for online shopaholics – You will be surprised by how many supportive programs are available over the internet. Seeking the understanding and experience of others trying to overcome the same shopping obstacle can prove priceless.

Resources

The Credit Repair Organizations Act
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)
Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
Consumer Credit Protection Act
The Fair Credit Billing Act
The Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA)

 

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