Mary Hunt: Here is how you quiet the urge to splurge
When it comes to compulsive tendencies, there is no question I received more than the standard allotment. I can sit down to watch the news and end up owning a pasta machine. I can stop by the mall to window shop and come out with three outfits and several things for the house. I can glance at a mail-order catalog, and in the time it takes to go online, Adirondack chairs are heading my way.
Why? I see what I like, and WHAM! Something goes off in my head insisting that I need it right this minute; that I'm entitled to it and pity the poor soul who tries to prevent me from having it.
While my compulsive tendencies will forever be part of my personality, thankfully I've found ways to quiet them.
Self-parenting. When tempted to give in to my impulsive desires, I ask myself if I'd accept this behavior from my children. Visualizing me having a temper tantrum is a disgusting image that brings me to my senses.
Slippery places. Shopping channels, compelling advertisements and mail-order catalogs are "slippery places" for me. Viewing these sets me up to fall flat on my face. If I stay away, I avoid temptation. When I have a specific need, I plan my route through the store, make my purchase and get out as quickly as possible. I've blocked shopping channels, and a trash can is close to the mailbox.
Make spending difficult. For me, carrying a credit card or checkbook is just too convenient and potentially lethal. Instead, I carry only enough cash to meet my anticipated needs for the day.
This forces me to plan ahead and helps to avoid a compulsive purchase.
Self-talk. When confronted with temptation, I talk to myself. "If this wasn't on sale, would you still buy it?" (If the answer is no, and it usually is, I pass.) "Just go home and think about it." (I rarely return.) "Don't you already have something that will do just as well?" (I usually do.) "You don't have to buy this just because you can; no one really cares." (Reality check.)
The saving antidote. I've found that saving money is the best antidote for overspending. Saving money produces a similar euphoria brought on by spending. The difference is that saving never leaves feelings of remorse and guilt the way overspending does.
The root cause. The unrelenting desire to acquire things is often masking the real issues. Discovering that my compulsive tendencies were rooted in my need for approval allowed me to deal with that issue effectively.
If you suspect you have a problem with compulsive spending, go to www.DebtorsAnonymous.org and take the debt self-test. This site will help you find the kind of help you need to get a grip on your compulsive behaviors, freeing you to make the necessary changes.