Are you a shopper that loves to buy anything and everything, even if you don’t need it? Do you like to indulge in “retail therapy?” Do you skip lunch just to buy that new Louis Vuitton bag? Do you check the local newspaper just to see what new items came in at your favorite department store? Is your closet filled with clothes that still have tags on them? If you answered “yes” to any of those questions… you my friend, are a shopaholic.
While being a shopaholic is not dangerous to one’s health, it is a danger to your financial stability and your obligations. Money is being spent on frivolous items instead of the necessities. This is where we need to start separating the “wants” from the “needs.” Here are a few tips to replace your old habits:
1. Know how to stretch your dollar. Shop at less expensive places, such as an outlet mall or discount store. You can find great deals and get more for you buck. Marshalls carries designer brands like BCBG, Juicy Couture, Michael Kors and Max Studio (just to name a few) for a fraction of the price. Just because it’s cheaper doesn’t mean it’s not good quality and out of style.
2. Cash Only. When you do decide to go shopping, bring only a set amount of cash. Do not carry credit cards in your wallet. This way you will only spend a certain amount of money and you will avoid acquiring more charges on your credit card.
3. Create a Budget Plan. This is where the separation of wants and needs are extremely important. Taking care of your finances are more important than living extravagantly. Mint.com is a great tool for managing your budget and tracking what you’ve been spending. It even has a feature to alert you via text message when your funds are low and when you go over your set budget.
4. Use a Shopping List. Write down the items you are going to buy and don’t go beyond that list. This will help stop you from making any impulsive buys and keep you focused.
5. Get to the root of the problem. Sometimes we have addictions because of underlying factors. Shopping addictions are no different. When you are honest with yourself only then will you be able to address this issue properly. Keep in mind that each person is different and what will work for one person, may not work for another. Dr. April Benson has some thought provoking questions worth answering:
- How and when did the shopping addiction begin?
- What form does it take? Is it shopping on the Internet, from catalogues, on TV, in stores? When buying gifts? In the service of a “collection”?
- What emotions underlie the shopping addiction? (Boredom? Loneliness? Anger? Anxiety?)
- Is it a means to self-soothe?
- Is it done to try to enhance self-esteem or feel more socially desirable?
- Do you shop to enliven yourself because of an internal feeling of deadness?
- Is it a response to a change in another addictive behavior?