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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45% of Shoppers Buy Items Online They Wouldn’t In Person [INFOGRAPHIC].

 

How do you shop differently when you are shopping online rather than at a physical shop? Please share in the comments below.

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 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.

Have you ever opened your credit card bill and been absolutely shocked at how much it is? Worse still, have you ever been too scared to open it, knowing you were going to be shocked? How about going into your wallet and going “where did that $100/$200/$300 etc go?  We call this being in the “money fog”! Essentially not having any clue how much money we are spending or have spent.

The money fog is almost always worse when we’re using credit cards, because the spending is often unconscious. In other words, you don’t really have to think about it, you just hand over your card without even considering what the balance already is. Provided you’re not at your limit you can easily do a day of retail therapy, or compulsive shopping, without giving the total amount spent another thought! You can just shop until you drop! Whilst you can also be in the money fog when using cash or debit cards, reality is closer at hand! You will either run out of money, need another trip to the money machine, or your debit card or EFT POS card will be rejected. Your spending therefore has to be, if not completely , at least partially, conscious.

Conscious spending is being aware of, not only how much you’re spending, but also being aware of what you’re buying! Do you really need it, or have you just seen it and want it, RIGHT NOW?

I know that when I was at the peak of my overspending, I could have a day out shopping without giving a thought to how much it was costing, or if I really needed what I was buying. As I was a very regular Internet banker ( I had to be, to keep juggling my money!) my shocks at how much I’d spent came pretty early on!  The unneeded purchases were often obvious very early on too! I might have “needed” a painting but did I need ten?

As the reasons you overspend, or shop compulsively, are many and, often, complex there isn’t a quick cure. However, if you only use cash or debit cards, the harm you can do is minimised. The other key is tracking your spending, that is, write every single cent you spend down.

If you are concerned about your spending or any of this, please seek help. The Financial Recovery℠ Institute has a list of counselors http://www.financialrecovery.com/?p=find-by-area. If you cannot find one in your area I, and a lot of my colleagues, offer counseling by phone or via Skype.

Do you have a story of being too scared to open your credit card bill? Please share it with us below in the comments section.

Don’t you love to see things, reduced in price, just when you need or planned to buy them? This is a true bargain.

But what about the stuff you didn’t plan to buy? You know the ones… “It was such a bargain, I couldn’t  pass it up”, “but it was on sale”. I’ve done it more often than I’d care to admit and justified it. I’m sure, many of you have too. We’re lured into the purchase by the sale signs!

However, there is a saying:

“You can’t have too much of what you don’t need”.  In other words if you don’t need it, you probably shouldn’t be buying it, no matter how much of a bargain it is!

This comes into play particularly, when things are on sale. Retailers know that most of us are attracted to bargains; valued items which we see reduced to “sale price”.(That is the price which the retailer knows will get it moving out the door, as fast as possible!) This appeals to our psychological side. We get an extra emotional “hit” when we think we are getting something cheaply. It makes us feel good. For those of us who use shopping or buying “stuff” to fill some unmet emotional need, this is mana from heaven! Not only can we buy it, but maybe we could  buy two (for the price of one!) or buy this AND something else (two hits for our buck!).

You may have an earlier post of mine http://wp.me/pDpjD-10 “Do you REALLY need it or just want it?”, which tackles this issue in more depth. Suffice to say, it is very important that we differentiate between our needs and wants when making buying decisions. I know that I used to buy things and tell myself I “needed” them; the reality was that I just, at that moment, “wanted” them. Sometimes I’d get them home and know almost immediately that I’d never wear that colour, style or whatever! I was purely lured into the purchase by the item being on sale, or just my need to buy something to satisfy some other unmet, often unrecognised, need. The retailer had won again.

So, if you really do NEED something and find it on sale, well done, you’ve truly got a bargain! However, if you have just bought something because it was on sale, you could have saved yourself more money, by simply not buying it!

I’d love to hear your stories about some real and imagined bargains you’ve got, in the comments below.

For a few weeks now I have been watching an ANZ bank ad on television, and questioning it.

You know the one with the young woman and the bubbles above her head… which say ” I deserve a little splurge”, “I’ll buy myself an early birthday present” “It won’t be on sale for ever” and “I’ve had a couple of hard weeks”.This is a link to the web version. https://comms.anz.co.nz/serioussaver.html?pid=mkt-pbr-ad-hp-jan12-serioussaver

This bit I really get. I used to use variations of each and every one of those statements, as justifications for my overspending and putting more “stuff” on my credit cards.  I knew a whole lot more I can tell you. So too do my clients now, those who are overspenders and/or chronic debtors! They know these excuses and variations of them eg. “I should be getting a bonus next month” ” I need this as I haven’t got anything to wear to Jo’s party, Sue’s wedding…” or whatever.

They are all examples of justifications or excuses for spending money when, on some level, we know that we shouldn’t, we know we can’t afford to and/or we know that other people probably wouldn’t be doing it if they were in the same place as us, financially that is.

The bit I don’t get is, that the person using those excuses would be drawn away from their overspending habits, by a savings account with a good interest rate and some other positive benefits.

Maybe some would see the error of their ways and start saving instead of spending, but I know I wouldn’t have  and nor would most of my clients. The reality is, that if you are an overspender or chronic debtor and using those justifications for your spending, in almost all cases you are struggling to pay your bills and debts and there is little money left over to save, if any.

The ANZ ad says ‘Saying no to temptation has never been so satisfying”. They may well be right; saving instead of spending is very satisfying. I just need a lot more convincing that the young woman in the ad, if she is using all those excuses for her spending, will be tempted by the prospect of saving and earning “up to” 4.5% interest. Taken altogether, those excuses spell to me a problem with overspending, which is not insignificant and requires some expert assistance.

I would be interested to hear your comments.