Just as with any addiction, the first step toward recovery is to realize that you have a shopping addiction. You need to realize that you are engaging in self-defeating behavior. Unlike alcoholics, you can’t simply stop shopping for the necessities of life. But being aware of the problem gives you the opportunity to analyze the reasons why you are buying.
Spending, for many, fills a social or psychological need. If you feel comfortable with having things around you, it may stem from a childhood of scarcity and want. Some people spend to project an image of wealth to their neighbors, even if they can’t afford what they buy. Once you know what your reasons are, you can take the necessary steps to monitor your spending.
Today’s society is based on material wealth. Media advertising heavily promotes the urge to buy based on the feelings of joy and satisfaction you think you will get from buying their products. It’s hard to resist the temptation when faced with colorful packaging, sales and discounts. The only way around temptation is to have a budget and have the discipline to ignore the advertising hype and buy only what’s on your shopping list. Below are some ways you can break the addictive shopping cycle.
1. Monitoring and keeping track of what is being spent is an important step to controlling your habit. Compulsive shoppers never create a list of the items they need and so buy on impulse. If you have a serious problem, you need to monitor and write down every purchase you make. At the end of the month tally up those expenses. You’ll likely discover that you are buying far more than necessary. This will help you curb your future spending.
2. One good technique is to write down in a notebook those items you think you’d like to buy whenever you go shopping. You don’t buy the item. Rather, you take a few days before referring to your notebook. Likely, you’ll find that the item you thought you wanted won’t have as much appeal weeks later.
3. Pause before you pick up an item. Ask yourself if this is something your really need. Compulsive shoppers often rationalize their need to buy. Many shoppers get into trouble as they base their purchase on future income. But a sudden layoff or illness can negate that bonus that would otherwise pay for the purchase. If you pause to ask yourself if you can afford something, it can help you decide to skip the purchase.
4. Compulsive shoppers use credit cards freely. If you’re one of them, leave the cards at home and use debit or only pay in cash. Even if you can afford the purchase, the interest you pay on credit makes the item far more expensive than the sticker price.
5. Leave your feelings at home. That’s easier said than done, but if you approach shopping with an analytic mind, you’re less likely to splurge. Shopaholics buy to satisfy some emotional desire. That’s what gets them into trouble. Take the example of today’s youth that must have the latest technological marvel and line up down the blocks to get it without much concern whether they can afford it. It’s the desire to fit in with everyone else that leads them into debt.
While you may feel you must have something, keep in mind that most spenders feel remorse once they purchase what they don’t need. That feeling of remorse should override your desire to spend more than is necessary.
Keep these points in mind the next time you hit the store. They can eliminate your compulsive habit, but most of all, you’ll save more to afford the things you really do need.