A former overspender shares how to overcome the shopping urge

My Story: I Am a Recovering Shopaholic

contributed by Karen

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My story is a very long one indeed, but to sum it up in one statement, I am a reformed shopaholic. The habit was borne out of low self-esteem and growing up in a poor household where doing without was a daily occurrence. I can't begin to tell you how good it feels to have finally beat this devastating habit.

Fortunately, for my husband and me, there was never any serious financial ramifications due to my spending habits, but it was extremely stressful for both of us emotionally and I wasted a lot of money. The spoils of my addictive behavior are still around my house; I don't think I'll need clothing, shoes, etc. for many years to come! I would get this urge that I just had to go shopping and off I would go to the local outlet center or to the various stores near my workplace during lunchtime. I still have items in bags that I haven't used but will be using now! I feel totally liberated and you can, too!

Here are my tips for anyone trying to beat this addiction:

  1. Stay out of stores. Going to a store for someone addicted to shopping is like an alcoholic going into a bar. As my Dad says, "If you go into a store, you are going to buy something." For the shopaholic that turns into bags of many things! Remember that shopping is not recreation.
  2. Related: How Debt Is Like Drug Addiction

  3. Don't look at newspaper fliers. The times are too many to mention where I saw something on sale in a store sales flier and I just "had to have it."
  4. Don't peruse mail order catalogs. If you tend to get a lot of them, write to the company and tell them to discontinue sending them to you. Or throw them away when you get them. Don't even look; there's bound to be a bunch of things that will tempt you that you don't need.
  5. Are you heading for debt trouble? This simple checklist can help you find out and provide options for doing something about it.

  6. Stay off of online shopping sites and cancel any email subscriptions you get to these sites.
  7. When the urge strikes to go shopping, focus on something else; call a friend, read, cook, garden, or start a craft project. You need something to help you override the urge to splurge. Remember that this feeling will pass.
  8. There will be times when you do need something from the stores. Make a list of what you need, go to the store, make your purchase and then leave! Do not stay in the store to "just look around." Bring only the amount of cash to purchase the thing you need.
  9. If your shopping addiction has lead to credit card debt, take your card and either hide them in the back of a drawer, give them to your spouse to hold or freeze them in a block of ice in your freezer. Do not charge anything else on your credit cards. If you're in way over your head, call the credit card companies and set up a payment plan so that you can pay off the cards in a timely manner.
  10. Use these guidelines to choose the best plan to pay off your credit card balances.

  11. If you do slip up, and you will, take a deep breath and get yourself right back on track. If you find you need help, there are therapist and counselors that can work with you on this issue.

Reviewed August 2017

"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money, please send it by MyStory@stretcher.com.

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