“I can’t believe we owe this much money on our credit cards from the holidays! What happened?”

“This debt will take months to pay off and has put us in serious financially trouble.”

“I’m sorry. I guess I spent a little too much. I didn’t mean to put us in debt.”

This short dialogue between a husband and wife is being heard in possibly 15 million households all over America. Compulsive spenders feel as if they are unable to resist buying, often they shop as a way to feel better. They either binge shop or are compulsive buyers throughout the entire year. The idea of “shop until you drop” rules their lives.

Shopping can be the seasonal balm for those who are depressed, lonely or anxious during the holidays. The harsh reality of the consequences of such action hits hard in January when credit card bills begin to arrive. Other times of the year, shopping is the activity engaged in to numb out feelings of angry, depression and loneliness. It serves as a momentary pick-me-up but ends in depression, financial hardship and relationship problems.

If you or someone you know tends to buy things that can’t be paid for or purchase items that are completely unnecessary, here are possible warning signs that compulsive shopping may be involved. You:

•  Shop when you are emotionally upset.
•  Feel a “high” or rush when you purchase things.
•  Compulsively buy certain items like shoes, kitchen towels, etc.
•  Experience financial hardship as a result of too much buying.
•  Argue with others over your spending habits.
•  Don’t use purchased items.
•  Feel out of control when spending.
•  Spend too much time juggling accrued bills.
•  Accrue an unmanageable credit card debt.
•  Intend to buy one or two items but buy many more.

If you need help with compulsive spending, try applying these strategies to help break the cycle:

•  Admit you have a problem.
•  Get rid of your credit cards and pay with cash or check only. Hide one card for emergency uses only. You may want a spouse or trusted friend to keep this card.
•  Make a list and only buy what is on the list. No exceptions.
•  Avoid sales and discount places that give “a deal”.
•  Avoid shopping channels on TV and catalogue and Internet orders.
•  Leave your money, cards and checks at home when doing errands.
•  Substitute another behavior for the urge to shop, e.g., walk, read, meditate or pray.
•  Call someone for accountability when you have the urge to shop.

Most important-get to the root of the problem. Buying things will never fill that empty space inside. Only a deeper and more intimate relationship with God will ever satisfy your cravings. His self-control comes as a result of receiving and giving His love and will help you overcome urges to act out of control.

Are you a compulsive spender?

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