Is there any hope for a spendaholic?
Hope for a Spendaholic
by Gary Foreman
Could Debts Ruin Your Retirement?
Professional Help for a Spending Addiction
Is Debt Consolidation a Good Idea?
I have been married 40 years. I am 59 and a spendaholic. I have been following Dave Ramsey's plan and trying to get my credit cards paid off. We have no money and no retirement. Is there any hope for us?
Yes, there is hope for B. It might take awhile and may not be easy. But just because she didn't overcome her spendaholic tendencies in the past doesn't mean that it cannot be done.
Let's tackle the problem on two levels. First, let's look at the things that she can do to get the problem under control today. Second, we'll look at the longer-range things that she can do to uproot the source of the problem.
B. said that she's using the Dave Ramsey plan for paying off her credit cards. Good for her. Dave's plan is very workable. It's one of two common plans for paying off debt that are very similar.
Both pay the minimum on all accounts. One pays off the smallest balance first and pays accounts off from smallest to largest. The idea is that you get re-motivated every time you close an account.
The other ranks them in terms of interest rates. They pay off the highest rate first and work down from the highest interest rate to the lowest. This is the fastest way to pay off a group of accounts. But, you'll need to keep yourself motivated.
Depending on how much debt she has, it may take B. awhile to pay down all the accounts. She'll need some patience and determination. It took awhile to accumulate the debt. It will take awhile to pay it off.
At the same time that B. is reducing the debt level, it's important that she stop her spending. She can't get out of debt if she keeps spending, so that has to stop now.
Based on past experience, her willpower and good intentions cannot be trusted 100% of the time. So until B. can control her spending urges, she'll need to use some physical means to assist her will power.
That means recognizing where she's vulnerable. Is she more likely to be spending cash? Using credit cards? Ordering over the Internet? Or by phone?
Whatever the vulnerability, B. will need to devise a plan to protect her when willpower is not enough. That may mean limiting the amount of cash she carries or freezing her credit cards in a block of ice, so she has to wait before charging. Maybe she'll need to block certain Internet sites or TV shopping channels.
Once B. has made it hard to succumb to her spendaholic urges, then it's time to try to find what's causing her to spend. I'm no psychologist, but I have worked with many people and their finances. Money is generally not the root of the problem. It's most likely to be a symptom of something else. Often people spend in an attempt to make some emotional hurt feel better.
Could your debt leave you homeless?
B. will want to look for a pattern to her spending. Is there a particular emotion that she's feeling when the urge to shop is strong? Knowing what emotion goes along with her spending will allow B. to watch for the emotion, and when it surfaces, she can guard against spending. It's a little like an early warning system.
She might also want to seek outside help. Many places have Debtors Anonymous meetings. Or B. could find professional psychological help to either help her find the source of her spending or to deal with the source once it's found.
There's no reason for B. to give up hope. She can make it almost physically impossible to spend. That alone will solve most of the problem. And if B. is able to identify the emotional root and deal with those issues, then she can be free of her spendaholism forever!
Gary Foreman is a former financial planner and purchasing manager who founded The Dollar Stretcher.com website and newsletters in 1996. He's been featured in MSN Money, Yahoo Finance, Fox Business, The Nightly Business Report, US News Money and CreditCards.com. Gary shares his philosophy of money here. You can follow Gary on Twitter or visit Gary Foreman on Google+. Gary is also available for audio, video or print interviews. For more info see his media page.
Take the Next Step:
- Find a Debtors Anonymous meeting near you.
- Start learning ways to control your spending by visiting the Dollar Stretcher Library.
- Stop struggling financially. Take these steps to get out of debt and begin the journey to financial freedom!
- Understand what the future may have in store for you if you decide not to do anything about your debt.
- Stop struggling to get ahead financially. Subscribe to our free weekly Surviving Tough Times newsletter aimed at helping you 'live better...for less'. Each issue features great ways to help you stretch your dollars and make the most of your resources. Subscribers get a copy of Are You Heading for Debt Trouble? A Simple Checklist And What You Can Do About It for FREE!
Share your thoughts about this article with the editor.
I often wonder if I should be seeking professional help to get my debt under control! Tell us: Yes, I'd like to find out if I am a good candidate for credit counseling or No, I don't think I need couseling but I would like to find out how I can pay off my credit cards more quickly.
More Debt Tips & Tools
- 6 smart strategies for paying off your credit cards
- 5 great second jobs to bring in extra cash
- Pay down debt now or save: Here's how to choose
- Can I get a debt consolidation loan with bad credit?
- Adjusting to sudden economic change
- Stop burying your head in the sand and face your financial fears
- Surviving a cash crisis
- Are you a shopaholic?
- This week's Readers' Tips
- Reduce your debt step by step
- Am I a good candidate for credit counseling?
- Do I have a debt problem?
- Compare personal loan rates
- Get free answers to financial questions
- Get free answers to legal questions
- Calculate the real cost of your debt
- Debt pay-down calculator
- Calculate the true cost of paying just the minimum