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As the holidays quickly approach and the shopping season swings into full gear, companies will be creating advertisements designed to grab your attention and convince you to buy their products.

Leslie E. Royal
Oct, 27, 2014

As the holidays quickly approach and the shopping season swings into full gear, companies will be creating advertisements designed to grab your attention and convince you to buy their products.  If you tend to overspend, this article will help address underlying issues that trigger this behavior and get you on the road to being “in the black” for 2015.

The first step to take to stop the bleeding and get out of the red in your financial life is to be honest with yourself.  Admit this is a problem for you, talk to someone about it and seek help from an accountability partner or maybe even a specialist.

“Some signs of overspending include buying things you don’t use, hiding purchases, feeling compelled to buy several of an item, going over your budget, giving gifts when others don’t reciprocate, finding yourself in a store or on a website with all of your free time and being deceptive about your finance to others,” says Dr. Sally Palaian, a licensed psychologist at the Positive Self Center and author of Spent: Break the Buying Obsession and Discover Your True Worth.

Once you acknowledge there is a problem, you can proceed to the process of elimination.  Create a budget and stick to it.  Discontinue the use of credit cards and opt in for cash for your shopping purchases.  Understand the difference between needs and wants.  Keep a record of everything you spend in a small notebook, on a 3x5 card or use a mobile app.  Terrence Shulman, author of Bought Out and Spent! Recovery from Compulsive Shopping and Spending, says practical strategies women should use are to avoid people who over shop and/or trigger you to want to shop, take along a person who is a disciplined shopper, install channel and website blockers, unsubscribe from sites, get a productive hobby or interest and seek assistance from Shopaholicnomore website.

“The urge to splurge is a craving.  Cravings start in the brain and are created when ’Super Stress’ occurs,” says Gloria Arenson, a licensed marriage and family therapist and author of Born to Spend: Overcoming Compulsive Spending.  “The ‘rush’ of a getting a good bargain or buying things to make yourself or others feel good is temporary feel good that keeps the spender from dealing with her real life problems.”

According to Arenson, when you have the urge to buy what you don’t need and overspend:

STOP – Think about what you are doing and make note in a journal

LOOK – For the out of control days and discover how they represent emotional tantrums

LISTEN – To what this is saying about your problems that make you feel powerless

TAKE ACTION – Plan to keep track of your spending from here on out, join a support group and go for counseling if necessary.  

“As with most addictive-compulsive behaviors, we need to take a thorough and comprehensive approach to treatment which often includes an evaluation for medications, specialized therapy, support group attendance like Debtors Anonymous, reading of books on the topic, family/partner therapy and education and many changes in one’s coping skills and support systems,” says Shulman who is also the founder and director of The Shulman Center for Compulsive Theft, Spending and Hoarding.