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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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

 

 

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.

‘Til debt do us part | StarTribune.com.

I’ve written about this before but here’s an article I’ve just read on finances and relationships. It discusses not only hiding purchases, but also hiding debt from partners.

Our upbringing has a huge impact on how we view and manage money. Our partners may well have been raised very differently; consequently they also have different views on what’s OK to spend money on or not.

Communicate, communicate and communicate and if you still can’t sort it out – get professional help.

I don’t know how many of you have been on a diet… but my guess a few of you have. Does the word diet turn you off….make you think of all the foods and sweet treats you’ll be missing out on?

I know it did me and now when I’m trying to lose weight (like right at this moment) I never talk about being on a diet. It just triggers something negative in my brain and makes me think ……deprivation.

It’s very similar for a lot of people who are working through issues with money.

When my friends used to ask me if I had a budget, or worse, tell me that I should be on one, it would just make something crawl up my spine!  My brain would immediately hear deprivation and I would almost panic. It would almost make me want to go out and spend……like a child doing the opposite of what was asked.

Now I am a woman of at least average intellect, and I could write a budget for myself, no problems. What I couldn’t do was stick to it.

I now understand that, at least partially, that was because I didn’t understand what was behind my need to spend to the limit of my credit. I now have a whole lot of insight and instead of shopping (the impulses will still come up), I understand that I need something emotionally rather than materially and attend to those needs. I learned this from my Financial RecoverySM counselling and my work with the MoneyAutobiography®.

With these programmes I now teach people to work with spending plans not budgets. The difference is that you plan your spending, rather than planning to budget/restrict. It may be semantics but for those of us with an issue with overspending or a shopping addiction, it works. It places the choice in our hands, and allows us to make decisions about our spending and if need-be adjust our spending as we go through the month.

It’s powerful.