Curb Your Spending Compulsion
- 2009 30 Dec
When it comes to compulsive tendencies, there's no question I received more than the standard allotment.
I can sit down, fully intending to watch the evening news, and end up owning a pasta machine. I can stop by the mall to look around and come out with three outfits I'll never wear, a gift I'll never give and several things for the house. I can glance at a mail order catalog and, in the time it takes to dial the phone, Adirondack chairs and matching windsocks are winging their way to my front door.
I see what I like and WHAM! Something goes off in my head insisting that I need it right this minute. I'm entitled to it. Pity the poor soul who tries to prevent me from having it.
While my compulsive tendencies will forever be part of my personality, thankfully I have found ways to make them my allies.
Self-Parenting. When tempted to give in to my impulsive desires, I ask myself if I would have accepted this behavior from my children. Visualizing me having a temper tantrum is an image that brings me to my senses.
Slippery Places. Stores, television shopping channels, slick advertisements and mail order catalogs are slippery places for me. Just going there sets me up to fall flat on my face. If I stay away, I avoid temptation. When I have a specific need, I plan my route through the store, make my purchase and get out of there as quickly as possible. I've programmed the TV not to stop at shopping channels and I make sure a trashcan is close to the mailbox.
Make Spending Difficult. Carrying a credit card or checkbook is potentially lethal for me. Instead, I carry enough cash to meet my needs for the day. This forces me to plan ahead.
Self-talk. When confronted with temptation, I talk to myself. "If this weren't on sale would you still buy it?" (If the answer is no, and it usually is, I pass.) "Why don't you go home and think about it?" (I rarely return.) "Don't you already have something that will do just as well?" (I usually do.) "You don't have to buy this just to prove you can; no one really cares." (Reality check.)
The Saving Antidote. I've found that saving money is the best antidote for overspending. For me, saving produces a similar euphoria brought on by spending. The difference is that saving never leaves feelings of remorse the way overspending does.
By reading good self-help books on compulsive behavior, talking about the subject and seeking help from wise counselors, I've discovered why I do the things I do. That has allowed me to take the steps necessary to change.
If you suspect you have a problem with compulsive spending, go to DebtorsAnonymous.org and take the self-test. This site will help you find the kind of help you need to get a grip on your compulsive behaviors, and free you to make some necessary changes.
Copyright © 2009 Mary Hunt. All rights reserved. Permission to reprint required.
Check out Mary's recently released revised and expanded edition of The Financially Confident Woman (DPL Press, 2008).
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