8 Ways to Control Compulsive Spending Behavior

Are you a shopaholic? Do you often find yourself spending majority of your paycheck on impulsive purchases that you don't actually need? Compulsive spending is one of the leading reasons why people end up indebted. When you can't finance a compulsive spending habit with your income, you will end up borrowing money. Then you'll borrow even more money to pay off the money you've borrowed. It's a vicious cycle. Here are several tips for controlling compulsive spending before it ruins your finances:

1. Admit to Yourself That You Have a Problem

The first step in the healing process for any psychological problem is being frank with oneself. Stop lying to yourself, and stop making up excuses for your behavior. You must first come into terms with the fact that you have a problem. Only after that can the condition be realistically managed.

2. Talk to a Person You Trust

Talking about problems with people that you trust helps a lot. Don't be afraid to let it all out to a friend or a family member that you can confide in. Afterwards, you will feel relaxed, less fearful and more motivated to find a solution. Your confidant might even be able to help you with your problem.

3. Shop Only with a List

Make a list of everything you need for groceries monthly or weekly at your house. When you go out to shop, take this list with you. Then buy only the things that are on the list. Don't impulsively buy snacks at the checkout counter and don't take anything that you don't need right away. Don't roll your cart up and down the aisles looking for things that you ‘might need later.' Always stick to the list. This simple exercise will help you discipline your spending habits.

4. Schedule Shopping Trips

Another method for controlling impulsive buys is to minimize the time you spend at stores. Stop dropping by the supermarket every now and then to buy little things like cereal or milk. When you do so, you will inevitably add other things to your cart that you didn't initially intend to buy. This is compulsive spending. Therefore, schedule grocery runs once or twice a month and get everything you need at once.

5. Stop Browsing Online Retail Websites

You might tell yourself that you are only ‘looking' at shoes on eBay, when in reality, you are indulging your compulsions. When was the last time you told yourself you were only ‘looking' at that overpriced handbag, and ended up buying it? Exactly. Stop reinforcing your impulsive tendencies by not venturing to places—real, on TV or online—that feed your bad habits.

6. Sever Ties With Your Credit Card

When you have your credit card with you at all times, you are more likely to make impulsive buys. A swipe at the café for a small snack, another at a store for a cheap pair of earrings, and so on the purchases keep adding up. Leave your credit card at home when you are not making a scheduled shopping trip or buying gas at the station. Additionally, you should make your web browser ‘forget' your credit card, so whenever you need to make an online purchase, you will have to enter you information from scratch. That'll give you time to rethink your decision.

7. Join a Support Group

Controlling compulsions on your own is not easy. You will find it much easier to do with support from others who understand the situation you are in. Search for local support groups for addiction, shopaholics or Debtors Anonymous, and join one that you think is suited for your condition.

8. Find Healthier Ways to Seek Positive Emotions

Research shows that most people who suffer from compulsive buying habits do so to feel good. Compulsive buying is meant to temporarily alleviate a negative emotion associated with some other situation. You can mitigate compulsive buying habits by substituting a different, less financially strenuous behavior that is equally emotionally rewarding. For example, you can walk the dog, bake a pie or watch a rerun of a favorite TV show the next time you feel like shopping. Find something that you like to do that makes you as happy as buying a new pair of Jimmy Choos. It will help you wean off compulsive spending and redirect your energies in a more positive direction.

You can try any one of the above suggestions. However, don't expect your journey to recovery to be anything but difficult. Don't be demotivated easily. Sooner or later you will have your behavior, and debt, under control.

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