Are you Overshopping or Overspending? Personalized Text Messages Can Help

Shopaholics and compulsive buyers have a new, affordable resource for help. Stopping Overshopping, LLC has just released an innovative, interactive text-messaging program that directs, inspires, and motivates shopping addicts to stop overshopping. The program is tailored specifically to each participant’s overshopping profile and it provides daily, personalized support when overshoppers need it the most.

Text messaging programs have helped people with a variety of physical and mental health issues, including diabetes self-management, weight loss, physical activity, smoking cessation, and diminished alcohol consumption. Although this area of research and practice is relatively new, there has been consistent evidence that text messaging interventions, particularly those that use tailored messages and offer the user the opportunity to text the system for immediate support, are the most successful. The Stopping Overshopping Text Messaging Program, the first of its kind designed to help compulsive buyers curb their overshopping behavior, incorporates each of these features.

The number and content of the texts vary by day of the week, time of the year, and the individual user’s particular overshopping profile. Program users answer a series of questions when they begin the program that allows the system to personalize their text messages. In addition to these personalized texts, there are special texts on Friday nights and Sundays to help negotiate the transition from week to weekend and back again and special texts the day before and day of the biggest shopping/sale days in the calendar year, such as Black Friday. Special texts point the user to relevant resources to augment his or her progress even further. Many of the texts are culled from the successful, evidence-based Stopping Overshopping Program, which has been shown, in a randomized controlled trial, to significantly reduce compulsive buying behavior.

Program users have the opportunity to text the system 24/7, anytime they have an urge to shop, when they have begun to shop at a bricks and mortar store, or when they have begun to shop online. Users get a return text immediately, which attempts to help them take an all-important pause, during which the system helps to talk them off the precarious emotional ledge upon which they’re standing. Some of these return texts are linked to 1-minute audios recorded by Dr. Benson and other recovering shopaholics who are far along in their own recovery. Ten minutes later, the system texts the user to find out a) whether he/she is still having an impulse or still shopping or b) has now been able to resist. Based on the user’s answer, he or she gets one more text, either congratulatory if the person has been able to resist, or encouraging restraint, if the person still has an urge or is still shopping.

When the doctor’s office calls to remind you of your upcoming appointment, aren’t you much more likely to go? In the same way, these texts serve as thoughtful reminders to keep the appointment you have made with yourself to focus on reducing or eliminating your compulsive buying behavior. Likewise, aren’t you much more likely to go to the gym when you go with a buddy? These texts function as a Shopping Support Buddy, reducing feelings of isolation and aloneness. Offering specific practical strategies for stopping overshopping, the program has the potential to reach thousands of overspenders who are reluctant to publicly acknowledge their problem. It can also be a powerful reinforcer for people who have already taken several steps on the recovery staircase.

Among the positive results reported by beta testers was the feeling that a wise, nurturing friend “had their back.” Using the program helped one overshopper reconsider her motives and take what she called “a sacred pause.” For another, the texts provided the ammunition he needed to shoot down his strongest overspending impulses. A third beta tester said, “Thank you so much for the encouragement and support, via this brilliantly helpful program. These texts have been enormously helpful for me. I didn’t overshop even once after beginning the program.” At a price of $24.95 for three months, the program fills an important gap between self-help options and private coaching or therapy, provides a jumping off point for someone who is just beginning to address his or her shopping problem, and reinforces and augments the gains of coaching or therapy for someone who is already well along the path. To learn more about the program, click here

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By Carrie Rattle

Carrie Rattle is a Principal at, 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. Read More