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Do you like to shop a little too much? Occasionally treating yourself to something new is one thing, but unplanned shopping sprees and knowing the intimate details of store clerks’ lives is another. According to the Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery, if you exhibit four or more of the following characteristics, you have a problem with shopping or spending:
- Shopping or spending money as a result of being disappointed, angry, or scared
- Shopping or spending habits causing emotional distress in one’s life
- Having arguments with others about one’s shopping or spending habits
- Feeling lost without credit cards
- Buying items on credit that would not be bought with cash
- Feeling a rush of euphoria as well as anxiety when spending money
- Feeling guilty, ashamed, embarrassed, or confused after shopping or spending money
- Lying to others about purchases made or how much money was spent
- Thinking excessively about money
- Spending a lot of time juggling accounts and bills to accommodate spending
Do any of these describe you? If so, here are a few ways to control compulsive spending:
Discover why you’re shopping. A big part of overspending is rooted in how we’re feeling. If you’re shopping because you’re angry, sad, happy, or some other emotion, it’s a sign that you need to walk out of the store. Take a breather and shop when you actually need something and when your emotions aren’t running high.
Just carry cash. Pay with cash instead of credit cards. It will be much more difficult to part with cash than to swipe your credit card. You might be able to pay later, but that luxury often comes with interest attached.
Delay purchases. Give yourself a few days to think about whether you should make a purchase. This cooling off period will help you think objectively.
Stay out of your favorite stores. If you have a weakness for clothes, do your best to avoid going into your favorite store just to “browse.” Chances are, you’re going to buy something you don’t need. (Do you really need those red sequined pants?)
Track your spending. Keep a record of everything you buy. This will let you see how much you’re spending and what you’re spending it on.
Ask for help. If you feel your problem is really out of control, try seeking professional help. One good resource is the website StoppingOvershopping, which has an online resource center and offers a group coaching program.
For more tips, come back to BlackEnterprise.com, and look for a new Shopping Insider every Friday.
Sheiresa Ngo is the consumer affairs editor at Black Enterprise.