The answer c9814708_san be, I believe, both.

For me, and many people like me, shopping certainly had many of the elements of addiction.

I would obsess about buying something. I would seek out opportunities to go shopping although I knew it was damaging my relationships and credit rating. I’d often have trouble stopping and would feel restless and irritable or even depressed, when I stopped or hadn’t been shopping in a while. I denied I had any problems with money and was never open about my purchases regarding price or quantity. I would also be out of control sometimes e.g. buying 2 pairs of shoes when I only needed one or none at all!! One of my clients told me of going into a shop to buy a white t-shirt and coming out a short time later with many t-shirts of assorted colors!

These are all common characteristics of addictive behaviors as described here http://www.indiana.edu/~engs/hints/addictiveb.html .

So, I now readily admit, I had a spending or shopping addiction for many years.

For me shopping was not the cure. It was merely a temporary patch or plaster over some wounds, namely my low self esteem.

Buying stuff made me feel better about myself and more worthy of others’ love and attention, in the moment.

It was temporary at best.

Many people who use shopping, or spending money, as a salve for their wounds report having feelings of remorse and even self loathing afterwards. They regret that they have again succumbed to the seduction of shopping. Their self esteem is hit again as, once more, they have broken the promise they made to themselves to stop using their credit card.

Just as alcoholics wake up the next day and regret last night and vow to, this time, never drink again, so does the shopaholic regret the shopping and vow to never do it again. They promise that they will pay off their credit cards and never use them again.

I would, secretly, make statements like that all the time and then further knock my self esteem by not keeping my promise to myself. I couldn’t be relied on, even by me.

Now what about the other part of the equation…that retail therapy is a cure?

For many people an afternoon of shopping is a very enjoyable way to spend time, either with friends, or alone. The buzz and visual stimulus of the shops and malls make them feel uplifted and brighter. It elevates their mood.

One of the questions I ask people when they start working with me is about their attitudes to shopping. If they describe shopping as a hobby it does raise a red flag for me.

Does it mean they are addicted? Not always.

However, it is worth remembering that shops and shopping malls are in business to sell stuff and make a profit. If you are spending lots of time there, the chances are you are going to spend more money than you intend and often, than you can afford.

So if, for you, the occasional outing to the shops lifts your mood and makes you happy then by all means go for it, at least occasionally. We are meant to be happy.

If, on the other hand you find yourself spending more time or money than you intended when you go shopping maybe it is time to evaluate these trips and find other less expensive hobbies or ways of making you feel better or relieve the boredom.

If you found yourself being a bit alarmed or all too agreeable, when you read the first part of this article contact me and set up a clarity/strategy call with me and we can talk about. You can schedule it here :-http://www.financialclarity.co.nz/schedule-session.html

Is today your day?

April 8, 2014

lotto numbersThis week’s Money Motivator I wrote on the potentially negative effects of selling Lotto at the checkout in supermarkets. I don’t think it is a good idea. It puts the temptation of acting on magical thinking too close for comfort. What do you think?

In Financial Recovery we use several terms to describe money behaviour. One, which I have used before is the money fog, where people ignore the signs of their precarious financial situation. Not opening mail, not knowing what their credit card balances are and how much interest they are paying, are all examples of money fog!

Another one is “magical thinking”. Essentially this is when we expect a miracle to get us out of the mess we are in. With money and debt, examples are a knight in shining armour racing in on his trusty steed and rescuing us, winning the lottery or getting an unexpected inheritance! All, we know are pretty unlikely to happen!

Therefore, like others, I was concerned with the news that Countdown supermarkets will have Lotto outlets right at the checkouts. Likewise the news that Lotto tickets will be able to be bought with credit cards!

TV3 had an item about this at the weekend. The CEO of the Mad Butcher, Michael Morton said that “ “A jackpot weekend can take up to 8 or 9 percent of (sic) our total weeks’ sales, and on a Saturday with a big jackpot it can be up to 15 percent of a loss of sales,”

Darryl Evans of the Mangere Budgeting Services Trust, said that on the Monday after a big jackpot they have a big increase in the number of people requesting food parcels.

A lot has been made in the media about the ease of purchasing leading to an increase in gambling. This is not my area of expertise so I cannot comment. However, what I do know, is that people who have a spending addiction, together with those who have substantial debt including, but not limited to, credit card debt, will be enticed by the power of their magical thinking into spending more than they can afford on Lotto. They believe that winning Lotto would solve all their problems and spending their last cent, or going deeper into debt, on tickets is worth it because they WILL win and therefore, on Monday, they will be able to repay it!

Now, I think most of us have dreamed of winning Lotto and what we would do with it when we do, but the difference is that the people I am talking about, see it as a realistic strategy for getting them out of the hole they’re in! Then come Saturday night, Sunday morning or whenever they check their tickets, they are overwhelmed with the disappointment of their strategy not working. Not only did they not win but now they have less money to buy the essentials or, worse still, are deeper in debt. This impacts their relationships, their mental health and can take food from their family’s table.

I know this because it was part of my magical thinking! I would buy a ticket religiously every weekend, believing(!) that this was my time and here was the solution, only to be bitterly disappointed on Sunday or Monday when I checked the ticket(s)!! My spending on this never went beyond $25 each week, but I am aware of people spending hundreds of dollars on Lotto, money they cannot afford.

It is also interesting to note that Countdown report an 8% increase in sales of Lotto when they trialled selling them at checkout as opposed to separate booths! They also get 7% of the profit from Lotto sales; they know it works!

If this is your thinking and behaviour, or you know someone who has these beliefs, get in touch and we can have a chat about strategies to use to avoid such spending and creating more successful strategies.

As most of you know I counsel and mentor people, who are wanting to change their behaviours around money. I therefore talk to a lot of people about money, not just clients but also people who I am talking to about what I do. Almost everyone is interested in that, but there is a group who cannot get their heads around how I could make an income doing what I do. Sometimes it isn’t easy to make an income but I am very confident of the premise around my business model. There are people who are willing to pay to eliminate or at least reduce, the pain they are suffering from their money mess!

The people who cannot understand this are almost always very good at managing their finances, especially their spending. They seldom have credit card debt, in fact apart from their mortgage or some student debt, they rarely have debt at all. Their credit cards are paid off in full every month without fail. They consider all purchases they make very carefully, often conducting extensive  research before deciding to purchase. Impulsive decisions are rare, if not non existent. So their behaviour is very different from the majority of my clients, who often have significant debt and don’t always manage to pay their credit cards in full every month. They know the buzz they get from impulsive purchases.

So their behaviours around money are vastly different and the first group of people are the ones who are most likely to doubt anyones ability to create a business around helping the second group.They believe that all you need to do is teach people to do what they do. Simple and straightforward.

If only it was that easy. The majority of my clients know what they should do, but actually doing it is a very different beast!

Why is that? Well for one thing they don’t see money and spending as so black and white. Just as some people eat food as simple nutrition, others of us relish the emotions and feelings eating delicious food can evoke. The reason why just knowing what you SHOULD eat, is seldom enough to make dieting successful!

They also invest money and food with more powers than a simple commodity or the way to provide your body with the fuel it needs to perform it’s functions. We can use food or money to make us feel better emotionally, to celebrate with and to give us simple pleasure.
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The reasons for these differences in behaviour are so often emotional or even psychological that changing them can be a very complex issue and require the kind of commitment by them and me , as those trying to lose weight and those trying to help them!

So why the differences? Well, people have all had different life experiences and these affect the way they behave and respond to life’s stimuli. Is that all there is behind it? Not at all!!

Whilst the emotional experiences have significant impact on our reactions, of equal or greater influence I believe, are our inherent personalities. These determine our responses to life in general and our subsequent behaviour. From an early age we can detect differences in personalities and how children react to situations and people, differently.

Sorted, is a New Zealand website which gives vast amounts of excellent information about money behaviour and how to manage your money better. They have an amazing array of calculators which you can use to determine how much you would save over x amount of years if you saved y over time. They can really help improve your decision making ability. I encourage you to explore this site.

The one I am interested in today is the Money Personality assessment tool. Designed by a psychologist, it asks 25 questions and then places you into 1 of 16 money personalities. It is light hearted and fun but also gives good information for you on how your personality may influence the decisions you make around money. I recommend you try it. For  your interest I was hedonistic! I struggle with this type of assessment because I am never sure if I should answer how I have learned to behave or my natural inclination. I usually combine both and come out with pretty interesting but unhelpful results.

Let me know what your personality is and how accurate you think it is.

Getting to today! My story

February 4, 2014

Another of the most common questions I get asked is how did I get to be doing what I do! This up close and personal video tells most of the story.

 

Can you identify with my story?Let me know in the comments below or if you would like to do that in person click on this link and request a strategy session with me. It’s free and if you’re in Auckland I will meet you for coffee and I even buy the coffee! I can’t say fairer than that!!

 

Hugs

 

 

Today’s post is a guest post from Kristy Liner. She has got some very pertinent advice for you, if you are tempted by the ease of online shopping. Thanks Kristy.

Stop Clicking, and Read! Avoiding Online Impulse Buying
Most of us love shopping, and online shopping is even better. You can shop in your pyjamas, with curlers in your hair, while you watch TV, and cook dinner. However, the online shopping generation has made it a bit too easy to spend our hard earned cash online. Now, impulse buyers don’t even have to leave their homes to spend money that they should probably hang on to. I’m sure we’re all very responsible shoppers who know nothing about impulse buying, right? Yea, well, consider the following steps to help stop online impulse buying, just in case you have a “friend” who could use the help.

Set a Time Rule
Whether you give yourself one hour or 30 days, set a standard for yourself. When you find something you want, wait for your decided amount of time before buying it. Put it in your “wish list” rather than your cart. If after that one week or 12 days, you still want or need it, then you can buy it. Often times, you will forget about it, and if you do, you didn’t need to buy it in the first place.

Don’t Make it Easy
Don’t store your credit card information on online sites. Before you can make a purchase, make sure you’ll have to dig out your credit card and enter the information. Sometimes this can deter you from going through the trouble to make the purchase. If that’s all it takes to change your mind, you definitely don’t need the item.

Research
Set another rule for yourself. Take the dollar amount of an item and spend that many minutes researching the item and pricing of the item. If you want to buy a $150 pair of shoes, you must first spend two and a half hours researching the shoes and where to get the best deal. If the time spent researching isn’t worth it, neither is the purchase. If it is worth it, chances are by the time you’re finished researching, you will have found the item at a rock-bottom price.

Don’t Drink and Shop
There’s no better way to set yourself up for buyer’s remorse than by shopping while intoxicated. Consider some of the other decisions you won’t let yourself make when you’ve been drinking and ask yourself if spending money is any less important. If you absolutely must surf the web after a few drinks, save your wants to a wish list to reconsider at a later, more sober time.

Don’t Tempt Yourself
Unsubscribe to daily deal mailing lists. A sale in your inbox is hard to ignore sometimes. However, if you aren’t subscribed to their mailing list, you’ll be none the wiser. Retailers set these email messages up to lure you to their site. They make you desire a product you never knew you needed and then make you feel like this is the only time you will ever buy it at this discounted, low price. If today is the only day you can get 30 percent off of something, that doesn’t mean you need it. Save yourself some money and unsubscribe now.

While online shopping is a definite no-hassle way to purchase the things we need at low prices, taking advantage of the accessibility is a bad idea. Not only will you spend money you wouldn’t normally spend, but you’ll buy things you don’t even need. Take these steps to deter yourself from falling into the trap and save money today.

Kristy Liner enjoys writing about tips for saving money at http://creditscore.net.
Image credit: auremar / 123RF Stock Photo

This is a great piece on overspending….a subject, which you know, is pretty close to my heart!

Whilst this is written from an American perspective, I think that, apart from the numbers the story is pretty much the same, no matter where you are in the world!

I had lunch with a friend, and fellow former overspender, today and we discussed the “now” generation. In our parents’ day ( and I’m a generation above her) they saved for what they needed or wanted, and the range they had to choose from, was much more limited than it is today. I think their expectations were much lower than ours are too. I hasten to add that I think the “Y” generation have much higher expectations and the need for even greater immediacy, than ever before.

What are your thoughts on this?I’d particularly love to hear from you if you disagree! Let’s get the discussion happening!

Or have you had any consequences of overspending, which Ramona hasn’t thought of?

 

The Consequences Of Overspending — RamonaCreel.com.

This is a very interesting study showing that a drug used for treating the symptoms of Alzheimers disease, memantine, has been found to reduce impulsive thoughts and spending in 8 compulsive buyers.

Obviously, before it can be approved for the treatment of compulsive shopping, it has to be tested against a placebo in much larger clinical trials.

via Alzheimer’s Drug Curbs Compulsive Buying in Shopaholics – ABC News.

I’m not sure that everybody, who is a compulsive shopper or overspender, needs to be treated with drugs, but certainly those at the more serious end  need help.

In another article discussing the same study, the author discusses the case of Star Thompson,who spends £1000 a week on clothes. This despite the fact that she already has wardrobes full of unworn clothes, including 200 bras and 15 pairs of £250 Ugg boots!!

The author, Dominique Jackson of the Mail Online, states:- “The sooner the Thompsons, and the rest of society, recognise that shopping in this way and on this scale constitutes a serious psychological problem, the sooner the sufferers will get the help they so clearly need.”

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2151580/Our-culture-consumption-glorifies-compulsive-shopping-It-time-treat-shopaholic-like-addict.html#ixzz1wPqqEWXk

I couldn’t agree more with Dominique Jackson. What do you think of treating compulsive shopping with medications? Is it a worthy use of health dollars? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Footnote: Memantine is certainly not available on the Pharmaceutical schedule in NZ. I am not sure if it is available for private purchase.