How to deal with compulsive spending?
Experts have long cited an unfortunate lack in our educational system. This is the lack of teaching the proper handling of personal finance in schools. This has led to a lot of problems today. The lack of knowledge that this causes have resulted in many consumers failing to handle their finances in the right way. This does not mean that we are powerless to take steps about it. We can study about how to handle our personal finances properly on our own and without relying on others to teach us about it.
One of the biggest challenges that some people have to face is how they can handle spending in the proper way. According to a study, two out of every five American families actually spend more than what they are earning. So where do they get the rest of what they spend? They use credit cards or they borrow money. Unfortunately, most of the things that they spend their money are not necessities. They are spending on things that they don’t really need. Most of that is driven by compulsive spending.
Our society is not making things easier for us. Malls and shopping centers have sprung up in our cities. They have become the places where we spend most of our time. We go there when we feel bored and once there, we feel compelled to spend more money. This kind of society is fuelling compulsive spending.
What is Compulsive Spending?
Compulsive spending can lead to serious problems. Spending can be a form of addiction and like other types of addiction, it can have a very serious effect on the life of the person suffering from it. A compulsive spender might be aware that he/she has a problem but is unable to take the necessary steps to control it. Most of the time, however, compulsive spenders fail to recognize that there is anything wrong with their behaviour.
Compulsive spenders do not buy things because they really need stuff. They buy things because it gives them a certain “high” – an emotional satisfaction that they could not get from anything else. This is the same kind of high that people get in other types of addictions. If you think that this problem is only affecting only a small portion of the population then think again. According to estimates, probably 6% of the American population is affected by compulsive spending. That’s millions of people getting high on buying things that they don’t need.
The number of compulsive spenders wouldn’t be too much of a problem if they are earning the money that they spend on all the things that they are buying. Unfortunately, that is not the case at all. According to experts, the average compulsive spender is carrying a debt of $23,000. That’s billions of dollars in debt.
Compulsive spenders do not have to buy expensive things in order to get the emotional satisfaction that they are looking for. They might go around purchasing relatively cheap items and things but they would still be satisfied. Some people go around buying things that they see on sale, while others shop for old books. It does not matter what it is that is being purchased. The major characteristic of compulsive spending is that there is a desire to purchase things which is overwhelming and goes beyond all reason. It does not matter whether the item being purchased is expensive or not. What characterizes it is that there is that out of control feeling accompanied by the shopping.
Some people who suffer from compulsive spending buy things that they believe would improve their social status such as an expensive sports car and yet others feel an uncontrollable urge to go buy things that are being offered for discounts. They believe that they are saving a great deal of money by making those discounted purchases.
Compulsive spending is not recognized as a separate disorder by mental health experts, but that does not mean that it is not real. Like other types of addiction it tends to grow worse over time and it can lead to damaged personal relationships. The most obvious end result of such a behaviour is financial ruin since people suffering from it tend to spend a lot more than what they could hope to earn.
How to Deal with Compulsive Spending
The good news is that compulsive spending like other forms of addiction can be treated and cured. The first step towards resolving this problem is recognizing it by its symptoms. The person suffering from compulsive spending should then recognize that he /she has a problem that needs to be taken care of.
Symptoms of Compulsive
Like other forms of disorder, compulsive spending would start out small but it would go on and become worse as time goes by. Detecting compulsive spending during the early stages since the symptoms might not be so different from the behaviour of people who love to go shopping. Still, there are differences in some behaviours that should sound some alarm bells. If you keep buying books you do not read, clothes that you do not wear or gadgets that you never use and just keep them at home, then that’s a sign that you might have compulsive spending. When you spend money and buy things when you feel depressed and sad. You are basically using shopping as a means of resolving your emotional depression. Another symptom would be a feeling of recklessness when shopping and a certain kind of guilt afterwards.
When you lie and steal just so you can get enough money to keep buying things then that’s a sure sign that you are suffering from compulsive spending. Another sign that you have a spending problem is when you start fighting with your loved ones over your spending habit and you are forced to hide your purchases from them so you could go on with your spending.
Treating Compulsive Spending
We have mentioned that compulsive spending can be treated, but you need to be aware that it is not going to be easy. In fact it would be impossible to overcome this kind of problem on your own. You would need the help of a mental health professional to get you through. The first problem that should be overcome is the recognition that there is an issue at all. Like other types of disorder, those suffering from compulsive spending do not want to admit that they have a problem at all. So if you are suffering from compulsive spending, then you might be the last person to recognize that fact.
Do you suspect that you have this kind of problem? If you have a suspicion then you should examine your spending habits. If you are spending more than your income and you are buying things that you have no use for then you should talk to a mental health professional and ask for help.
Examine How You Feel
Your compulsive behaviour is rooted in your emotions. How do you feel when you go out shopping? Are you using shopping for dealing with depression or does it boost your self-esteem? Before you can resolve your problem with compulsive spending, you must recognize that you have a problem and what its roots are. You can answer these questions about how you feel by talking to others or by writing a journal.
Take Note of How You Buy Things
Try to analyse how you do your shopping. There should be some sort of pattern there. When you have recognized a pattern for your shopping habits try to find alternative things that you can do instead. You can try reading a book for example when you start feeling a desire and to go and buy something. You can start a physically engaging activity for example, one that would keep your mind and body and busy at the same time. When you are engaged in something else then there would be little reason for you to go out and buy things.
We have mentioned that you would require the help of a mental help professional to be able to deal with compulsive spending. The earlier that you enlist the aid of a mental professional the better it would be for you. There is nothing wrong with seeking the help of mental health professionals and you should not be embarrassed by it. They can tell you the correct steps that you need to follow.
Get Your Finances Back in Order
One of the consequences of having a compulsive spending problem is that your personal finance is sure to take a huge hit from it. The good news is that there are plenty of places where you can get help and support so you can get your money matters in order. The internet is a good source for help and information and there are also many groups out there offering aid and information that could set you on the right path.
These are just some of the things that could help you out in case you are having problems when it comes to compulsive spending.