An important part of living the good life is figuring out how to have what you want and still save money for your future. Do you find that, even though you want to save, you repeatedly over-spend instead? When do you cross the line from spending too much money to becoming a compulsive spender?
Although it isn’t listed in mental health professionals’ Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-TR (Text Revision), the fact is that compulsive spending has similarities to mental health challenges such as kleptomania and even alcohol/drug addiction.
In compulsive spending, engaging in the behavior of spending money alters how you feel initially. Later, those “high” feelings transform into guilt or self-loathing due to over-spending. Do you feel that you may be struggling with compulsive spending?
Questions to Ask Yourself to Determine if You’re a Compulsive Spender
1. When you spend money, do you experience an adrenaline rush or a “high?” Spending money on items that you need or require is the natural thing to do. However, if you’re shopping and spending just to change how you feel, you could be compulsively spending.
* Feeling an adrenaline rush or a sense of excitement and thrill (a “high”) when you shop and spend is a red flag.
2. Do you buy items that you never end up using? Maybe you have possessions stacked everywhere or taking up a lot of your living space. Or do you place stuff you bought in your closet where you find them later with the tags still affixed to them?
* Even though you may not have a full-blown “hoarding” situation, collecting things you can’t use could signal you struggle with compulsive spending.
3. How do you usually feel? When you aren’t shopping or spending money, do you experience anxiety, feeling down, or “the blahs?” Experts believe that people who compulsively spend are seeking the rush to avoid feeling the way they usually do, which is unhappy or anxious.
* Take a serious look at how you feel much of the time when you’re just living your everyday life.
4. Are you secretive with your purchases? Do you sometimes avoid being honest with your partner about how much money you’ve spent or even conceal items you’ve bought from your loved ones? Fearing reprisal from loved ones for purchases you made means you’ve probably had such experiences in the past.
* Compulsive spending can be tough on your personal relationships.
5. Can you pay your monthly bills? When it comes time to pay your regularly occurring bills to live (utilities, for example), do you have enough money to cover all your expenses? An additional price to pay for compulsive spending is struggling to cover your actual bills due to over-spending.
6. Do you spend more money now than ever before? When looking back at your spending habits over time, do you see yourself progressively spending more and more money with less regard for your budget? Because of the mental health aspects of compulsive spending behaviors, compulsive spending tends to gradually increase as time goes by.
What Can You Do About Compulsive Spending?
1. Liberate yourself. The good news is that if you’ve already identified yourself as one who compulsively spends, you’re now free to take steps to decrease your spending.
2. Set up a budget with the help of your partner or a close friend. Seeking guidance from those you trust is important. Vow to stick to your budget.
3. Avoid temptation. For now, decide to stay out of the stores, off of the online shopping sites, and away from the televised shopping networks.
4. Work on developing a positive mindset. If you feel better in your daily life, you won’t need to seek the adrenaline rush that compulsive spending provides.
5. Consider talking to a mental health professional about your situation. You might benefit from additional therapeutic support from a professional, neutral third party.
If you’re concerned about your spending, honestly answer the questions to determine if you may be compulsively spending money.
Once you recognize you need to reduce spending and change how you feel on a day-to-day basis, put the above 5 steps into action. Discover a more fulfilling and secure financial life by avoiding compulsive spending.