If you find yourself using shopping as an escape from the stresses of life, you’re probably an over spender who is more prone to being broke.
Many people enjoy the temporary “high” from a shopping spree. But when you do that way too often, it leads to out-of-control spending and bills that you can’t afford.
Break the habit of emotional spending by identifying triggering situations in your life that may lead you to shop.
For instance, do you run to the mall when your boss upsets you or when you’ve had an argument with your honey?
Find healthier ways to self-regulate and manage your emotions so you aren’t fueling a shopping addiction and spending money recklessly.
Here are eight ways to stop emotional spending.
Leave the credit cards at home.
As a matter of practice, leave your credit cards at home more often than not.
Having credit cards, charge cards, and department-store cards in your wallet or purse makes it easy to make spur-of-the-moment shopping trips.
You’ll think more about your spending practices if you have to part with your hard-earned dollars versus whipping out a credit card. Moreover, people tend to spend more when they use plastic instead of cash.
Use the “24-hour rule.”
When you see something expensive that you think you “must” have, be willing to wait on that purchase for 24 hours and tell yourself that, if you still really want the item, you can always go back and get it the next day.
In many cases that 24-hour period will be just the break you need not to indulge yourself.
Set a budget.
For most shopaholics it’s pointless to say, “Just don’t shop!” If it were that easy, no one would have a shopping problem.
The real issue isn’t shopping in and of itself. The real issue is excessive shopping or compulsive, habitual, out-of-control shopping.
Sometimes it happens at certain times of the year such as holidays. To combat the problem and keep your finances intact, give yourself permission to do some shopping—within reason.
Set a realistic amount of money that you can spend each month without racking up debt. Once you hit your limit, do everything in your power to stop shopping for the rest of the month.
Enlist the help of friends and family.
When you go on a shopping excursion, take a buddy with you who will not let you go overboard.
That friend should know your budget or spending limit for that particular outing.
Then it’s the friend’s job to get you out of the mall or away from the stores once you reach your limit.
Also, tell any supportive family members that you’re working on curbing your spending, and ask for their encouragement in helping you meet your goal.
Limit shopping trips to “emotion-neutral” times.
Be aware of your emotional state at all times and pledge that you will not shop when your emotions are off kilter.
This means foregoing shopping trips when you feel any kind of emotional extreme such as elation, sadness, or depression.
If you must shop, do so during “emotion-neutral” times—i.e., when you’re on a relatively even emotional keel.
Channel your energy.
Find alternative things to do. Instead of hitting your favorite stores, channel your energy into more positive activities such as exercising, reading, or pursuing a hobby.
If you’re busy, especially if you’re doing something fun and physical, you’ll not only be too occupied to do mindless shopping but you’ll also be engaged in a healthy, stress-busting activity.
Get to the root of the problem and recognize your emotional-spending “triggers.”
You can also get a handle on impulse shopping binges by preventing them in the first place and learning why your spending is out of control.
Start a journal. Write down what happens in your life and look for patterns to see whether something serves as a “trigger” event that makes you want to shop.
Also, reflect about your past. Write down notes about when you first became a shopaholic, how shopping makes you feel, and what emotions you experience before and after you shop.
Join a support group for shopaholics.
Lastly, for serious shopaholics, try joining a support group such as the Stopping Overshopping Program (www.StoppingOvershopping.com) created by April Lane Benson, Ph.D., the author of I Shop, Therefore I Am: Compulsive Buying and the Search for Self.
Dr. Benson has been in private practice in New York City for nearly 30 years and has treated many women who are excessive shoppers.
A similar program, is offered by psychotherapist Olivia Mellan, the author of Overcoming Overspending. She has teleclasses, CDs, books, and resources on her website (www.MoneyHarmony.com) to help shopaholics.
By getting to the root of why you consistently splurge, you’ll understand how your habits first began and how to combat the cultural and media influences that make you want to hit the mall and shop unnecessarily or excessively.