Health & Wellness Articles

7 Tips to Conquer Compulsive Spending

Signs, Symptoms and Treatments

What are the symptoms?
Compulsive spending often starts out small and grows into an increasingly destructive habit. These descriptions are just a few examples of feelings or scenarios associated with compulsive spending.

  • A home full of books you've never read, gadgets you've never used, and clothes you've never worn.
  • Spending money when you're feeling sad, lonely or depressed.
  • Spending money you don't have on things you don't really need.
  • Feeling excited when you buy something new, but guilty soon after.
  • Feeling reckless and careless when you spend money.
  • Forgetting how much you spend or suffering an emotional "blackout" after a shopping spree.
  • Lying about how much you spend.
  • Stealing money to keep spending.
  • Continuing to spend despite having large debts.
  • Feeling anxious, scared or unhappy about your shopping habits.
  • Fighting with loved ones over your spending habits.
  • Shopping to make yourself feel better.
  • Hiding purchases and spending habits from loved ones.
  • Not knowing (or not wanting to admit) how much you shop.
  • Turning to alcohol, food or exercise to help you cope with the stress of your debts.
  • Maxing out credit cards on superfluous purchases.
  • Taking out loans you know you can't repay to cover your debt.
If you can identify with most of the symptoms above, then you likely have a problem with compulsive spending. The next step if getting the help you need to overcome it.

Can compulsive spending be treated?
Yes, compulsive spending can be treated, but it can be a difficult problem to overcome on your own. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes, simply changing your behavior and putting yourself on a budget is enough to conquer the problem. But for others, enlisting help from a friend, support group, therapist and/or financial counselor is a better approach.

As with any addiction, talk to a trusted loved one and your health care provider about what's troubling you. Do not be ashamed, as compulsion spending doesn't make you a bad person. Print a copy of this assessment to make it easier for you to discuss your problems.

Here are 7 tips to help you get a handle on your spending.

1. Admit you have a problem. The first step to recovery from any addiction is acknowledging that you have a problem. Having trouble controlling your spending doesn't make you weak or vulnerable; it makes you human. Talk to your health care provider to work out a treatment plan. (See #5 below for more resources.) Share your problem with a trusted loved one. They can serve as a support network and help you during your recovery. Remember that spending money is not solving any problems; it's creating new ones. Some people binge on food as a way to distract themselves from the real trouble in their lives. Others spend money as a way to numb some sort of pain or sadness. To get past that, you need to first confront those bad feelings.
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About The Author

Stepfanie Romine Stepfanie Romine
A former newspaper reporter, Stepfanie now writes about nutrition, health, fitness and cooking. She is a certified Ashtanga yoga teacher who enjoys running, international travel and all kinds of vegetables. See all of Stepfanie's articles.

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