This is a guest post from my friend Suzanne Cramer, social media specialist with Care One Credit and writer for A Straight Talk on Debt.
Do you go shopping with your girlfriend on a Saturday afternoon, charge up your credit cards, ditch the shoeboxes and bags in the trash, and when asked by your partner, “Where did those shoes come from?” say, “Oh I’ve had these for years.” If so you might need a shopping intervention.
Compulsive shopping is done by many of us as a form of therapy; I know for me it was. I would have a bad day at work, a fight with my husband, or a fall out with a friend—shopping made me feel better.
In addition to a “shopping high” I would also become obsessed with getting good deals; even if it meant I had to charge it and then face the interest charges making the deal, well no longer a deal.
If you’re obsessed with shopping and have the credit card debt to prove it, learn where to go for help, as well as tips to help you resist the urge to shop.
Recognizing that you are indeed a compulsive shopper is step one. Step two involves addressing the problem head on, perhaps with the assistance of a close friend or family member, or support group.
Stop Compulsive Shopping Today
Now that you’ve realized how out of control your shopping habits may be, there are several things you can do to prevent incurring more debt. Try these tactics for nipping compulsive shopping in the bud.
Leave the wallet behind. Out of site out of mind. Without your wallet full of store cards the mall becomes a place to get the kids out of the house, get some exercise and maybe some ideas for purchases you want to save up for. Carry a few dollars in cash to treat yourself to a coffee or ice cream cone for the kids.
Use lists when shopping. Grocery stores can be just as dangerous as the mall, especially when you are hungry or bring the kids along. In an effort to keep your grocery bill in check come prepared with a list and a budget—be sure to stick to both!
Avoid the online shopping cart. I was guilty of compulsively shopping online as well. The temptation to browse all the sites of ads you receive emails for is sometimes too great. Unsubscribe to the emails, and only shop online for items not available in stores, or for gifts. Instead of online shopping out of boredom, consider taking a walk or reading a book to fill the void.
Cash Only. By living a “cash only” lifestyle you can drastically reduce your spending. Somehow our brains make it harder for us to part with the cash than to whipping out the plastic. Use credit cards as a last resort, emergency only panic button to push in the event of a true emergency.
Get help and support. If you find you can’t overcome the shopping urge alone, there are plenty of organizations that are ready to help. Try a support group like Debtors Anonymous or visit Shopaholic No More, which claims there are more than 18 million shopaholics in America. So if you’re among them, clearly, you’re not alone.
Finally, if you are in serious credit card debt consider talking with a debt relief provider. They can help you develop a plan to conquer your credit card debt, lend support and give you the tools you need to be financially successful.
Are you a compulsive or “reformed” compulsive shopper? How did you stop your bad habits?