(The following is a guest post from Francesca)
Most people enjoy shopping and treating themselves and others to new things. However, for some, shopping can turn into an addiction which has a negative impact on their finances, relationships and happiness.
If you go shopping to feel better when you don’t really need the things you are buying, or if you have cupboards full of impulse buys that you have never used and you are getting into debt, then you may have a shopping addiction.
Many compulsive shoppers are so worried about the debt that they are accumulating that they do not look at their bills or credit-card statements and have no idea how much trouble they are really in. The buzz that an addict can get from shopping is often a way of dealing with other problems and pressures they face in their daily life, so worry about finances is likely to spark another spending spree and the cycle continues. Dealing with compulsive shopping behaviour is difficult but there are some ways you can overcome it.
Take Charge of Your Finances
Taking a long careful look at your finances and working out exactly how much you are overspending is an important part of facing up to the problem. Most people with this addiction are not saving for their future or their pension. Write down a list of your essential outgoings and work out exactly how much disposable income you really have at the end of each month.
Speak to Your Creditors
This may seem scary but there are many people in difficult financial situations. Arrange a repayment plan with them that you can afford. This may mean making smaller payments and paying off the debt over a longer period of time or agreeing to pay extra each month with a reduced interest rate.
Cut Up Your Credit Cards
Unless you can pay them off in full at the end of each month, you are paying high levels of interest. Using cash instead is an easy way of keeping your spending in check.
Know What You Need
Have a close look at all the items you have. If your wardrobes are bursting with clothes and shoes you never wear or your cupboards and shelves are full of expensive clutter then you really don’t need anymore, be ruthless, bag up everything you don’t need and take it down to your local charity shop. Better still, if you have the time, list all of your unwanted items on eBay and make some money! Before you go on a shopping trip, make a list of what you need and how much you are able to spend and stick to it. Don’t be tempted by sales or discount offers – if you do not need the item then don’t buy it.
Birthdays and Christmas are times when compulsive shopping can get out of control. Talk to your friends and relatives and agree a maximum spend amount on gifts. This way you will be able to budget for gifts in advance.
Finding a Distraction
Many people shop in order to feel better about themselves and their personal situation. Doing something different, such as a new hobby or exercise, can be a welcome distraction from shopping.
It is always difficult to ask for help but if you feel that you are becoming depressed and anxious due to your compulsive shopping habit then you may find it beneficial to speak to a counsellor or therapist. There may be an underlying cause for your need to spend and the therapist can help you understand the reasons behind your behaviour.