The weather outside is frightful. That’s all the more reason to hit the mall, right? Well, not if you have difficulty controlling your spending. Or perhaps you lack control completely.
Christmas may make this problem even harder to control, especially if you’re trying to make everyone else’s holiday season merry, as in buying pricey gifts that you simply cannot afford apart from using credit cards. Here’s how to conquer compulsive spending, a problem that may require outside intervention.
1. Acknowledge your problem. You may sense that you have a problem, something you are reminded of each time a credit card bill comes your way. Just as easily you can ignore the problem, perhaps making minimum small payments to tackle your debt. But, you need to get beyond the momentary regrets and resolve to do something about your compulsive spending sprees.
2. Get accountable. Chances are no one else knows about your spending problem. Or, maybe they do and are not the person who can hold you accountable. Find someone who is honest, loving and firm, and is willing to stand with you as you do battle. That someone could be a relative or a friend. Or if your compulsive spending is particularly serious, you may need professional help — a therapist can assist you.
3. Cash and carry only. You can tackle your compulsive spending by never using credit and debit cards. If you have cash, you are more likely to buy only what you need, avoiding on-the-spot purchase decisions. That also means avoiding layaway, a method of making payments on items that you may not need and really cannot afford.
4. Stick to a list. Over spending at popular retail outlets isn’t the only place where your budget can take a beating. Grocery stores offer tantalizing sales, but those deals won’t do you much good if you don’t have the money to pay for them. Before you head to the supermarket, review the store’s sales flyer. Then, make a list and resolve to stick with it. You’ll only spend what you set out to spend and not a penny more.
5. Shop with friends. In the second point, accountability was mentioned as a way to curtail compulsive shopping. Why not carry it a step further by inviting a friend along for your next shopping excursion? That friend should be someone who will hold you accountable even if she or he shares a similar problem. You both need to promise each other that you will heed each other’s warnings, otherwise the advice will fall on deaf ears.
6. Distract yourself. When temptation rises, pray or meditate. Ask God for His help and let your accountability partner know about your struggles too. Instead of going to the store, go exercise. Or do some chores. You may have energy bottled up inside of you and simply need to do something that will take your mind off of your challenge. Turn off the television, log off the computer, and throw away tempting sales circulars.
7. Join a group. Beyond the help of a professional, you may find much support and comfort in meeting with people with like problems. Just as alcoholics must acknowledge their problems and seek assistance from groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, you may find that the help you need comes from a similar association of afflicted people. One important benefit here is that others will not enable you, nor will they condemn you. You’ll get the help you need and give out as well.
Do not delay seeking help — with so many tantalizing sales out there this Christmas season, you may find yourself overwhelmed and giving in. Flee temptation and begin down the road to recovery right now.
See Also — How to Put Your Financial House in Order