8 Specific Tips To Curb Compulsive Spending Habits
For those who are thrifty and live a frugal lifestyle, compulsive spending is something that is very hard to understand. To many, it is simply a convenient excuse for someone to go out and spend to his heart’s content. But to tell you the truth, you would probably agree that you won’t know how depression feels like until you get it.
A compulsive spending disorder is a real psychological condition that can affect real people. It’s not just about spending money to enjoy luxury and feeling good about themselves. A big factor that drags victims down this path is social pressure coupled with low self-esteem. As soon as you accept that a compulsive spending problem is not just a financial problem, but also a psychological condition, the sooner you are to healing it.
A spending addiction is a scary thing not only to the victim, but also the family members as well. This is because family members are usually the ones who are left paying off debts and picking up the pieces. Imagine having to use the savings you’ve put aside for your children’s college fund to clear debts for purchases of little practical value. Even worst if the debts were accumulated by your spouse.
As you can probably see, whether it is you or a loved one with the condition, you need to deal with such problems with practicality. You need to put a handle on it before a small issue blows up into a big disaster. Here are some timeless methods that have proven to work.
1) Cut up all credit cards
The only real decisive way to stop filling up the charges column on your credit card bills is to destroy that evil plastic thing. In fact, do it now. Get rid of them completely. Credit cards are not essential items. Whatever you buy or wherever you eat, you can pay by cash. You probably don’t need to be reminded how swiping a card does not feel as painful as paying in cash. This will help the you be more mindful on spending money. The best part is that you won’t be able to overspend.
2) Only carry cash
No checks. No debit cards. And no ATM cards. You will now start only using cash. If you feel that carrying cash is inconvenient, good. That’s the whole point. The less you carry, the less you spend. The more you use cash, the bigger the visual impact will have on you. Slowly, you will start appreciating the value of money again. And that will led to more responsible spending behavior.
3) Track your expenses
Have you ever went through a month or even a weekend and wondered where you money went? It’s a weird and sour feeling isn’t it?
You need to get rid of these situations so that they will never occur again by tracking all your expenses. Just treat this as an exercise. You are not doing it to cut down your expenses. You are just doing it to keep track of what is happening to your money.
What’s likely to happen is that you will realize soon how much money you have wasted on things that you don’t really need or want. This realization alone can help shift the way you look at money altogether. Ideally, it will lead you to be more mindful in how your spend.
4) Buy it later
This is an effective method of prevention. From now onwards, whenever you want to purchase something above $20, give it a week before you actually buy it. You might want to adjust the $20 limit upwards or downwards depending your personal circumstances. Most of the time, you will find that you don’t actually want to buy that item anymore after a week. That is a classic situation that you wanted to make the purchase due to emotional reasons in the first place.
5) Stop buying for the future
Out of the last 10 items that you have bought, how many of them have you actually used by now? You would be above average if you are using more than 5 of them. Many of us buy stuff that we intend to use in future. Even more of us end up not using them at all!
Sometimes, retail sales make merchandise so tempting that you just have to buy it. You then justify it to yourself that you will need it in future even though you have no use for it now. Well, that time don’t always come. If you eliminate all purchases made for the future, you might find that you have cut down your expenses by 50%!
6) Avoid your weak spots
You probably know what are the things that you have a weakness for. Sushi lovers might feel hungry the moment they see a sushi restaurant, movie lovers might not be able to stop themselves from buying a ticket when they see a cinema, brand followers might not be able to stop themselves from buying more dresses whenever they walk past their favorite boutique.
The odds are that you know where your vulnerabilities lie. If you are serious in curbing a compulsive spending problem make an effort to avoid all the places that cause you to lose control.
7) Get an accountability partner
It might be difficult to believe. But we very much become what the people around us expect us to become. Get someone close to you to help you kick the habit. Get them to hold you accountable. It is easy to give yourself excuses not to do something. It is very much harder to use stupid excuses when you have to explain them to a close friend or family member. This is one of the most powerful ways to change your behavior even when they have nothing to do with money.
8) See a counselor
Just like you might find it amusing that there are professionals who treat animals with mental problems, there are professionals that have years of experience helping people with spending problems. Counselors are highly trained professionals who care about alleviating your problems. They might have the proper tools and expertise to nudge you in the right direction without you even knowing it.