Go From Shopaholic to Shopping Habit-Breaker: 6 Hacks to Avoid Shopaholic Debt
If you’ve ever watched the 2009 movie “Confessions of a Shopaholic,” you’ve seen how a bad shopping habit can wreak havoc on both your finances and personal life. Shopaholic debt can lead to serious financial issues which can cause long-term damage to your credit score.
Perhaps like Isla Fischer’s character in the film, you have found yourself in a retail quandary. Similarly to how many people emotionally eat to fill the void in their lives, maybe you turn to online stores and the Sunday ads to make up for what you feel you’re missing.
At New Era Debt Solutions, we encourage our clients to make smarter financial decisions, starting by breaking up with old patterns:
1. Admit You Have a Problem
The numbers won’t lie. Look back on all your receipts from the last few months and add up how much you’ve spent on unnecessary items. Because most of our shopping is done via credit card (versus cold, hard cash), it’s harder for us to think of our spending as something that is constantly withdrawing from our funds.
Evaluate why you shop. Each time you feel the urge to take out your wallet, ask yourself how you’re feeling and if you’re experiencing any unpleasant emotion that’s driving you towards retail therapy and shopaholic debt. Chances are, stress or lack of fulfillment are the real root causes of your problem, not a genuine need. Combat your real stressors instead of trying to shop them away.
2. Retrain Your Brain
Many people think of shopping as a reward for a hard day’s work or a remedy for a bad day. Don’t treat yourself with things you don’t need.
Meik Wiking, a Danish author and founder of the Happiness Research Institute of Copenhagen, believes that friendships, relationships, and a sense of community are integral to human happiness. In fact, he lists the six elements that determine happiness: togetherness, money, health, freedom, trust, and kindness. Notice that togetherness comes before money.
When was the last time you felt true joy? It probably wasn’t when you bought a new T-shirt; it likely was when you spent a fun night out (or in) with friends. When you want to reward yourself, do it by spending time with good company. You’ll make far better memories with your close friends than you will with whatever new thing you bought and you’ll avoid shopaholic debt in the process.
3. Set a Rigid Budget
When it comes to avoiding shopaholic debt, creating a strict budget is an obvious solution to combating the problem but can be challenging to stick with. If you allot yourself a set amount of money for non-essentials each month, don’t go beyond your limit. Once you’ve spent your allotted amount, it doesn’t matter if you see a must-have item in the store later on. Treat your budget like food rations during wartime.
4. Unsubscribe from Unnecessary Shopping
Take time to go through your promotional emails to see just how many messages you’re getting from retail businesses. Then, unsubscribe from all of them. You don’t need to be bombarded by notifications about shoe sales, outdoor gear sales, or airfare discounts. The best way to eliminate bad habits from your life is by cutting off the sources!
5. Let the Sales Slide By
And speaking of sales, remember that phrases like “Last Chance Sale!” or “Biggest Discounts Ever!” are empty. In reality, you’re being compelled to buy things you don’t actually need. Don’t be lured into shopaholic debt by the promise of free shipping and buy one get one 50% off.
6. Think About Long-Term Goals
Take a minute to reflect on some of your biggest lifelong dreams. Maybe they involve a trip to the Greek islands, helping your parents pay off their house, or pursuing a graduate degree. All of these goals require money. But as long as you’re stuck in a toxic shopping cycle and building shopaholic debt, you’re not going to get closer to realizing your dreams.
Make a list of your goals and keep them on hand anytime you feel the urge to shop unnecessarily. Once you remember what kind of future you’re trying to create for yourself, the temptation to shop will subside.
Am I a Shopaholic?
Shopaholism is a type of addiction that compels someone to compulsively buy things. Here are some signs that you could be a shopaholic:
- You feel compulsive urges to shop even in situations where you don’t need anything.
- You regularly find that you’ve spent more than you could afford to or have trouble sticking to a shopping budget.
- You feel disrupted, upset, or anxious if you’re unable to shop.
- You shop online at work and it’s having an effect on your job performance.
- You have high credit card debt balance and struggle to pay those debts because of shopping.
- You shop as a way of compensating for emotional stress, anxiety, depression, or loneliness.
How is Shopaholism Different from Normal Shopping?
Normal shopping is a common activity that people engage in to purchase the things they need or want. It is typically done within the confines of a budget, and people generally make purchases that they need or have planned for. On the other hand, Shopaholism is an uncontrollable urge to shop that can lead to compulsive spending and financial problems.
Shopaholics often spend beyond their means, have difficulty controlling their shopping impulses, and may experience negative emotions such as guilt or shame after making purchases. Additionally, shopaholics may continue to shop even when it causes problems in their personal or professional lives.
Buried in Shopaholic Debt? New Era is Here to Help
New Era Debt Solutions has settled over a quarter of a billion dollars of debt since 1999 and wants you to be our next success story. If you need assistance achieving financial freedom, contact one of our friendly counselors at New Era Debt Solutions to learn more about finding the debt relief option that best fits your needs and budget. Our counselors are with you every step of the way.