I admitted last week that my August/September credit card bill was a whopper at $6,782 which I have to pay in full by Oct 11th OR ELSE. No one likes the “or else” in life, its right up there with root canals, car accidents or getting punched in the stomach. The “or else” in this case is 19.9% interest, and on $6782, that is $112.50 in monthly interest. I had a laugh when I read the minimum payment stats that are the financial equivalent to those nasty pictures on cigarette packs. I won’t cheat you out of laughter, here’s the exact statement:
Estimated Time to Pay
The estimated time to pay your New Balance in full if you pay only the Minimum Payment each month is: 53 year(s) and 7 month(s).
Minimum payment is $54.00
BWAAAHHHAHAHAHA! I may not live that long, I’d be 90 years old. Geez, that’s funny and scary.
How many of us actually pay attention to that? (Besides me, of course.) Have you thought about what your unconscious spending does to your life? Does anyone else find this scary?
Imagine for a moment, every item you buy that you don’t have the cash for, the length of time it would take for you to pay for it. Take a long moment to think about that. The years and interest you pay.
Now imagine being a shopaholic.
Infographic by OnlinePsychologyDegree.net
Notice that all the points in the Infographic relate back to a thought, feeling or state of mind?
For many, excessive shopping and spending is their greatest downfall. Becoming overly obsessed with shopping can leave you in debt for hundreds of thousands of dollars and take years to pay back.
[quote]The Cost of Being a Shopaholic: About 18 million Americans—more than 1 in 20—have a retail habit so intense that it places their relationships or careers in jeopardy, according to a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.[/quote]
Are you a typical compulsive shopper?
Inside the Mind of a Shopaholic: The Personality of the Compulsive Shopaholic was an eye-opener for me. I was mentally going through a checklist while reading and realized that most of the behaviours and moods applied to me. I have spent most of my life seeking approval from others, and I suffered from low self-esteem as a child and teen. As a youngster, I was made fun of a lot and spent my teens, twenties and some of my early thirties compensating for it, trying to buy friendship or love.
I also suffered from extreme anxiety in my teens and early twenties. I would shop on impulse and was an emotional spender. You could also have quite easily tagged me as materialistic.
I was a compulsive shopaholic.
Are you a Shopaholic? Take the test and find out.
I surrounded myself with a better circle of friends that are like-minded and truly care.
I had a major life change and came to the realization life was passing me by and I didn’t like the way the future looked. I wanted to change that. To take responsibility.
Coming to the realization that I am unique and if someone doesn’t like me I can’t do anything to change that.
How do you overcome the need to shop?
- I learned to go window-shopping. I taught myself to go to a mall or store, without my credit cards or cash and just wander. I would observe the thoughts or moods that went through my head and talked myself out of it.
- I pay better attention to my moods. I know that if I’m depressed and/or bored, I am likely to shop. I will quickly find a better outlet for this energy to take my mind off shopping, such as: cleaning the house, going for a walk, doing yoga or reading a book.
- I learned not to get down on myself if I had a spending moment. Doing so would only further perpetuate the shopaholic cycle and not put me in a positive direction. I accept my lapses in judgement, return the item if I can and if not, I chalk it up to a bad investment and move on.
- Reminding myself that I don’t like the feelings of guilt.
- Visualize getting to zero debt and that this purchase will not help me achieve that or any other financial dream.
- Reminding myself that it was a much better deal shopping the Pre-Christmas sales at Macy’s in New York City.
Was I a Shopaholic? YES.
Am I still a Shopaholic? For the most part, NO. I am more conscious of my spending and think long and hard before I make an unwise spend. Like any human being however, I am prone to error, mistakes and lapses in judgement.
The whopper of a credit card bill is not me being a shopaholic; I didn’t spend $6782 on clothes and shoes. I am not trying to make excuses; there were emergencies that went on the card, such as vet bills for Maggie getting sick, higher than usual car maintenance, left over root canal dentist bills and a sales course for my work (which I will be reimbursed for). If I take all these items off, my bill would have only been $1427.27. Still a bit high but reasonable; my average monthly expenses are $665 that go on the card.
Part of doing a budget is learning what your average expenses are in your budget categories and planning around that. The vet bills and car maintenance are both poor planning on my part. I save for car maintenance but not enough, I only have $500 saved for the $1900 bill and the cat is lumped into the emergency fund. Both are possible areas to tweak in my budget. The bill will be paid in full but at the expense of most of my EF savings.
Want to know more about the Psychology of a Shopaholic?
Psychology of a shopaholic: When it’s a real mental disorder
Why Shopaholics Spend: Is Psychological Addiction Really Behind Excessive Shopping Sprees?
Understanding the psychology of spending