Many women's spending habits are so notorious that they become fodder for jokes. But it's not funny to have to deal with the results of compulsive shopping, credit card abuse, gambling, or other unhealthy financial practices.

A woman's place isn't in a mall or a casino. It's following in the steps of God. God - not money - should be in charge of your life.

Here are some ways you can break foolish spending habits and develop wise ones:

Tell the truth. Admit the reality of how you misuse money. Acknowledge that you're powerless to make healthy financial decisions without God's help. Commit yourself and your financial situation to God.

Recognize the emotions behind your spending. Think and pray about how your emotions influence the way you spend money. For example, do you shop when you want to lift your mood? Do you try to buy someone's love through expensive gifts? Do you crave adventure and hope to find excitement by gambling?

Realize that only God has the power to truly fulfill you. Confess your emotional longings to Him and ask Him to give you the healing and satisfaction you desire. Before you spend money on anything, stop and check your motivations. If you're motivated by an emotional need, remind yourself that simply spending money won't truly satisfy that need. Attack the emotional trigger by interrupting the opportunity.

Don't hide from debt. Understand that debt won't magically go away if you ignore it. Ask God for the courage to face your debt honestly, and the wisdom to develop a plan to pay it off. Know that there is real hope for you to break free of your debt if you commit to surrender your will to God's will and work diligently to pay what you owe. Avoid taking on new debt while you work to pay off your current debt.

Realize that you shouldn't depend on others to provide what you can and should do for yourself. Take personal responsibility for what you buy; decide to purchase something only when you can afford to pay the full cost upfront.

Participate in a recovery program. Consider getting help from a group such as Consumer Credit Counseling Service, Debtors Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, or Crown Financial Ministries. These and other reputable organizations can provide valuable encouragement, support and accountability as you work to change the way you deal with money.

Challenge wrong beliefs about money. Realize that false beliefs can keep you stuck in self-defeating patterns with money. Understand that you can't make all your dreams come true by spending money and that you can't avoid pain by hoarding money. Know that your needs are legitimate and it's okay to spend money on yourself to meet them. Know that you aren't powerless; you have the power to make smart choices to enhance the quality of your life.

Get organized. Get all your financial information in front of you in one clear format. Get your time and space organized (such as by scheduling a block of time each week to pay bills and designating a central place for your receipts). After cleaning up your physical space to deal more effectively with money, get rid of unhealthy attitudes (such as escapism) that clutter your mind, so you can concentrate better.

Tackle overspending. Analyze your current spending by writing down everything you spend money on for a few days or longer. As you study the record, ask yourself honesty whether or not your purchases truly reflect your values and whether or not they're truly worth what they cost. Consider whether or not you truly need what you bought. Then ask God to give you the clarity of mind to distinguish between wants and needs. Remember that, to subsist, you need very little - food, water, clothing, and shelter.

Don't buy things you don't really need, or even want. If you have some extra money, save it rather than spending it. Only buy things when you can afford them. Don't spend money to make yourself feel better. Don't overspend on gifts to impress or gain the approval of others. Don't buy things on sale just because they're on sale. Resist indulging in spending rituals such as buying in pairs. Don't keep your spending habits a secret from others.