Too much clutter in your house? Do you find yourself digging deeper into consumer debt? You may need to consider that you're a compulsive shopper. If you're thinking about getting out of debt, or even willing to try, the first step is to stop spending on unnecessary expenses. These tips can help:
Unsubscribe From Deal Emails
Especially at the holidays, I liked receiving store emails to get the biggest coupon or discount they're offering, Then I realized that I was ordering every time I saw a “Today only! Order now!” email from my favorite children's clothing store. I'd justify it by saying, “but it's 70% off,” and not spending much, but all those little bits add up! Take the temptation away by unsubscribing to store emails, daily deal sites, and other “buy now” pressures.
Curb Your Credit Cards
It's easier said than done, but leaving your credit card(s) at home can keep the impulse buys at bay. Some families prefer shopping only with cash (using the envelope system), with the reasoning that it's more painful to spend cash so you'll be more mindful of your spending. Others refuse to have store credit cards; the high interest rates and constant incentives to spend can help you rack up consumer debt quickly.
Keep a Spending Diary
Just like a food diary, the simple act of writing down your spending can curb your “appetite” for shopping. Write down what you want and consider writing how you're feeling at the time. Perhaps you're spending because you're sad? Bored? Many of us have used shopping as a distraction from feelings, but it is possible to overcome the habit.
Use Visual Reminders
If you're working towards a goal, be it paying down debt, paying for a vacation, or purchasing a big-ticket item, having a photo or image in a conspicuous place (like the fridge) may help. Try sticking a mini post-it note right on your credit card, so you know where your money is going instead of shopping for impulse buys.
Change your Environment
When I was first home alone with my son after 10 years of working, one of our main activities “just to get out of the house” was walking the mall. It was great for rainy days, but the constant “buy, buy, buy” message was impossible to fight. Between snacks, lunches, the carousel and the inevitable impulse clothing buy, I lost a lot of money on those trips. By finding a new environment and activities to fill our mornings, that spending was eliminated. If boredom or comfort are your triggers (you'll know from keeping your Spending Diary), you can identify new ways to deal with those feelings.
Get Some Help
If you realize that you cannot stop shopping by yourself, consider getting some help. Enlist help from friends or family or even a therapist. Solving this problem would be well worth the money, and in turn you'll gain the confidence to dig out of debt and stay on course in the future.
What suggestions do you have to stop compulsive shopping?
Original image from Annie Mole on Flickr