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

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OK, I am changing things up in here!

For a few years I have been posting irregularly in here, usually about money and money behaviours. It’s been OK but it was a bit boring( actually often a lot boring!!) and I’m not into boring and nor do I lead a boring life.

Sooooooo….. I have decided to change it around and I am going to post more regularly just on what’s happening in my life. It won’t be on all of it, I promise!! I will still focus on money in many ways but it will be more centred on my ongoing relationship with money and where that has led me and the adventures I have along the way.

It may not be pretty, it may not be well punctuated and it may not use correct grammar all the time, but it will be real. It may well contain some of my opinions on other stuff too…so look out!

A catch up first..

As many of you know, for a lot of years I was an overspender (aka shopaholic) and a chronic debtor. I always had credit card debt apart from a few weeks when I had, yet again, managed to pay them off, vowing to never use them again…until I did! Every. Time!

I was living in the USA ( my home is New Zealand) and met a new partner.. A quick explanation here. I usually use “they gave me an ultimatum” but in the interests of really telling it as it is, it was really she gave me an ultimatum. I warned you that my life isn’t boring …I came out as a lesbian at 52 and F was my first female partner! Using “they” has given me a few laughs though! eg a male CEO saying ” so all you needed was a good man!” As if!!!

Anyway, F gave me an ultimatum: either get help for my spending and behaviour around money, or we were through.

So, I found a counsellor and began Financial Recovery counselling. It was a gamechanger! I stopped using my credit cards immediately and began tracking what I was spending. Did I become a penny pincher? No, but did I plan my spending and then  track what I spent? Hell yeah!!

Things were trucking along pretty well…until the company was restructured and my position was eliminated.

Back to NZ I came with F relocating with me. The only problem was I didn’t have a job as I had become too senior (and too expensive) for the local subsidiary. I’d had my fill of corporate life anyway and decided to strike out on my own and Financial Clarity was born. I would help people, women in particular, who had issues around money like I did.

It wasn’t an overnight success..far from it but I began to attract clients and I was able to help them change their relationship to their money. It had hiccoughs along the way and lots of them.

My Mum got ill and died aged 93. I was delighted that self employment allowed me the freedom to spend some very valuable weeks with her before then though. My wonderful Mum’s death derailed me than I thought it would. I thought I was pretty accepting of the inevitable with her age and failing health.

On many levels I was but I missed her more than I thought possible and still do.

Look for part two of the catch up tomorrow!

Underearning is no joke!

February 20, 2014

Women and underearniAunty Acid payslipng is a serious topic however, and one I feel strongly about. Pay equity is something that we all need to consider, not only for ourselves, but even more importantly for our daughters.

There is a lot written about both topics and there has also been a lot of research into pay equity, both here and elsewhere in the world. There is still a significant gap here between women and men in pay for jobs of “equal value”.

There are many reasons, excuses and justifications, but as Sheryl Sandford, COO of Facebook, wrote in her book we, as women, need to work to change it! Sheryl Sandberg leadership not bossy

So ask for a raise if you’re salaried, apply for positions that you will need to grow into ( guys do this all the time. They apply for positions which they are not necessarily qualified for, trusting in their ability to be able to do them successfully! Often as women we don’t do this.) and charge what you are worth if you are self employed. Many mentors or coaches actually suggest you charge what you think you are worth and then double it!! Too often we way undervalue ourselves. Most importantly teach our daughters to value themselves and that they can do and be whatever they put their mind to.

Please comment below and also please forward this to at least one friend. Someone you know would appreciate it.

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.