Are You A Compulsive Spender?

by Mike on April 11, 2017

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What’s the first thing that pops into your head when you think about addiction? Drugs. But did you know that addiction to spending money is just as prevalent?

People tend to get addictions when they feel bad. Then they discover that something  – be it illicit substances, money or sex – makes them feel temporarily better about themselves, and they keep doing it, in the hope that they’ll eventually feel “normal” again. Unfortunately, these behaviors are usually pretty destructive and can lead to personal ruin.

For some people, the problems spiral out of control. But for others, they bubble away under the surface for years, never really being addressed.

April Lane Benson is a psychologist who has worked extensively on compulsive spending. She says that a compulsive spender is a person who puts so much time into buying and thinking about buying things that they end up ruining their life in some significant way.

She’s written a book which she hopes will help people facing this challenging predicament called To Buy or Not To Buy: Why We Overshop and How To Stop”.

So how do you escape overspending, according to Benson?

Find The Root Of The Problem

Overspending isn’t just superficial. In other words, it’s not just because you want stuff and that you’re easily manipulated by clever marketing. Rather, Benson says, it usually stems from some deeper issue in your life. There are all sorts of things that can trigger compulsive spending, she says, including depression and bereavement. But it can also be a way to deal with anger, betrayal and even inadequacy.

Dealing with these problems first is essential if you want the behavior to stop. Otherwise, you’ll keep looking for ways to bandage over the wound, never really addressing the root cause.

Track Your Spending

Many compulsive spenders ultimately end up going into debt. There is more information at on this subject but, ultimately, victims end up taking drastic action to get their finances under control, which can seriously affect their family life. It’s a good idea, therefore, to track your spending, Many people who go out and buy compulsively rarely spend time reflecting on the impact that their behavior is having on their bank balance.

Research has shown that simply writing down what we have spent money on can be an effective wake-up call. Being conscious of your own behavior helps to identify and change compulsive habits.

Benson suggests putting a score out of five for how essential something is that you’re planning on buying. Under her system, utility bills would score a five, since they’re entirely necessary. A manicure would score a zero since it’s not needed at all.

Give Yourself A Cooling Off Period

Often, people with compulsive spending issues will buy things they have no need for whatsoever. It’s a good idea, therefore, to institute a cooling-off period before committing to a purchase. Experts at recommend waiting 20 minutes at least before buying something to figure out whether it’s really something you need.

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