Friday, 20 November 2009

7 Steps to Stop a Shopaholic

Stop a ShopaholicEven though the economy is still in turmoil, that doesn't stop some people from getting all the retail therapy they need. But when shopping becomes a problem--namely, if you fall into extreme debt as a result of it--there are a few things you can do to tame your inner shopaholic.

Everyone has one in their family. Whether it’s that grandmother who seems to buy everything for Christmas 10 months in advance on clearance, the friend who always insists on paying for everything, or the mother who you know to invite shopping with you because she’ll pay for everything just because she likes to spend money. We all know at least one. It can seem funny at first. We even make jokes about it now and then, but it eventually gets to a point where it’s no longer funny. In fact, we worry about them. We hope they’re not spending their retirement or all of their paycheck on clothes and home decor without paying their rent and phone bill.

But what can we do? It is nearly impossible to say something without them getting defensive or hurting their feelings. Many shopaholics don’t want to admit that they have any problem.

  1. Step 1

    Consider the Economy a Sign to Slow Down

    When the national economy reports are optimistic, it is easy to feel like you are serving your country by contributing to it. And you may feel like the economy needs you to help it thrive during the recession. Either way, shopping is not worth putting yourself into overwhelming debt, and there are ways to get what you need without going overboard.

    If you tend to overspend, remind yourself about the economy and the need to be conservative. After all, you never know when a source of income could be cut off--and if it is, you want to make sure that you have enough money for the basics.

  2. Identify Your Emotions

    Whether you are mad, excited, happy, or just plain bored--these are all emotions that can trigger you to overspend. Before you set out to shop, think about how you are feeling. Often times, you may still be able to enjoy shopping if you set a limit for yourself. You can also go without your wallet and make the drive back if you feel you really want something. Overshopping cannot fill an emotional hole, even though it may seem like it does at the time.

    Otherwise, avoid shopping due to these emotions, or you could be buying things you do not want, need--or even like!

  3. Think About Your Underlying Needs

    If you are lonely, you may go shopping just to be around other people--maybe even talking to the cashier helps. This is the type of underlying need, that if you can identify, you can satisfy in another way. Once you think about the reasons why you shop, you can likely find other ways to satisfy those needs. Or maybe you can reallot money and spend it more smartly; if you get frustrated at work, hit the gym afterward instead of the mall. It's much more beneficial!

  4. Get a productive hobby. Many people have creativity just stuffed away inside them waiting to get free. Finding shopaholics an outlet for these creative juices just might occupy their time enough to help them cut back on their overspending (making jewelery, sewing, woodwork, painting, etc).
  5. Utilize Alternatives

    Once you identify the reasons for your shopaholicism and recognize the underlying needs, it's time to start meeting those needs without a credit card. If you're angry, work off your anger or resolve the issue instead of hitting Macy's. If you are anxious, try taking a walk to calm down or do some journaling. These are wonderful alternatives that can help you break the overspending habit. You will be able to shop and regain your love of shopping--in a more healthy way--once you stop buying mindlessly.

  6. Connect With Others

    Plenty of people overshop--there are about 17 million Americans that cannot resist the urge, according to studies. Similarly, there are tons of resources to help you connect with others to find support and identify ways to curb your spending. Visit a site like to help resist the urge (see Resources below).

  7. Shopping for others and getting paid to do it. There are several career paths out there that involve spending other people’s money and getting paid to do it. A lot of these also don’t require a degree of any type if you are good at it. Interior designers and stylists both make money by helping other people spend their money. A large percentage of shopaholics are women and, in my experience, women generally have a keen eye for such artistic expenditures.

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