Do you impulsively shop…a lot? Do you use it for self-soothing, escape, or quality time with someone? The reason why you over shop is unique to you. How it impacts your life as you spiral out of control falls into several patterns that look like this:
You may or may not be in serious debt. If you’re in debt, the interest on that debt is compounding at an alarming rate. Just take a look at your credit card statement. There is a box required by law that shows you how many years it will take to pay off your balance if you pay the minimum. It can be a real wake up call.
If you’re not in debt, part of your comfortable retirement is in your closet or sitting in a collection and likely valued for re-sale at pennies on the dollar. Do you even know how much you need for retirement compared to where you are?
Your Relationship is Tense
Your partner or parents try to understand and be empathetic. They try to not criticize if it’s your own earned money. But there comes a point when these shopping discussions get really old as in “Another new item?”. Financial Infidelity is not uncommon, and can be as hurtful and devastating as cheating on a partner. A little secret here or there, having goods delivered to the office, hiding things in a closet, or having secret credit cards are all infidelity.
Imagine what it would be like to not have secrets, to not feel ashamed or guilty. How would it feel to know your partner completely trusts you?
Your Job is Under Threat
Maybe shopping started with a project that was driving you crazy because it was really boring or really stressful. You needed relief and just ducked out for a slightly long lunch hour, or disappeared a little early to pick up some things – to treat yourself for the rough day you were having. Then it became a habit of self-soothing when things got rough. Now your performance is down. You need the money to pay for your next credit card bill, and you’re really worried.
Imagine instead, feeling really valued at work. You’re reliable, trustworthy, and worthy of promotion. Will you choose fear and anxiety or confidence in your future?
Your Life is Getting Smaller
Shopping erodes your personal time. You get lost in stores or on the internet, not really understanding how much time goes by. You’re building friendships with retail sales clerks, only they’re not really your friends. They’re trained to build relationships with valuable customers – people like you who will spend a lot. You may consume time returning things, or waiting for a delivery that requires a signature. Over shopping begins to define your life by restricting time for other interests and friends. And, you may work more to pay off your bills. It becomes an endless circle.
Shopping is a short dopamine rush, but it cannot fill your soul. Could you be spending more time with loved ones and real friends? How about taking care of yourself instead of buying a new mask for every day? What do you want to be remembered for?
HOW TO TAKE CONTROL NOW
- Learn the very Basics of your Financial Situation
Simply start writing down your expenses when you make them. Don’t judge yourself, just reflect. How many items were wanted versus needed? It will help you convert money vagueness to money control. Clarity on what you spend and need in the bank will shift your mindset immediately to better money self-care. Whether you have debt or need to save more, knowing how you can achieve that with a certain amount of decreased shopping is POWERFUL.
- Start Building an Arsenal of Ready-to-Use Self-Care Tools
Make an actual list so that when you have the urge to shop, you can find a quick solution. Self-care can occur in so many ways, such as working out, getting a massage, meditating, walking away from your desk and chatting with someone for a couple of minutes – it is unique to you.
- Have a Plan to come Clean with your Partner
It’s time to rebuild communication and trust. This might be with a partner, or parents who are helping you fund your lifestyle. Since money or shopping conversations become emotional and escalate quickly, it’s better to have a plan in place.
- Acknowledge you need help and support from your loved ones.
- Share how you are going to start tackling your over shopping, such as #2 above or #4 below.
- Recruit a loved one to talk with openly and regularly about your successes and challenges. Ask for recognition for success and supportive discussion with challenges.
- Set goals for decreased items purchased or decreased dollars spent in a time frame.
- Proven Support to Help
You may be ready to seize 2020 and tackle your over shopping head on. Or, you may want to try some anonymous tools first to do it yourself. Here are some great choices!
- The app The Urge Strikes helps you pause before you buy, and reflect on your need.
- Dr. April Benson offers a Self-Help Program with a book and Journals on Stopping Overshopping.
- If you need more support, you can receive private coaching across the country.
Make 2020 your year to take more control of your life.
Your Personal Money Coach
Carrie Rattle is a Principal at BehavioralCents.com, a website for women focused on mind and money behaviors. She has worked in the financial services industry for 20+ years and hopes to inspire women to better prepare themselves for financial independence.