Sunday, October 26, 2008

Therapy for Retail Therapy

Knowing Your Poison, Part 2

Not everyone has an addictive personality. Sometimes it’s just a bit of a weakness for, say, shoes, handbags, or bargain-hunting. But whatever it is, it’s healthy to be aware of it.

If, however, you do find you’re spending in an addictive way in an unhealthy area and you want to look into getting some help, I myself found one particular 12-step program to be invaluable--and free! Here’s a list of 12-step groups, and there are said to be over 100 different ones now.

There’s even a Debtor’s Anonymous which helped friends of mine tremendously. I feel like I’d be remiss not to mention these programs, because I found support, solace, and community there. You probably don’t need one, but if you ever do, just know that they are there. Look them up online or in your phone book and reach out.

A Bit of Therapy for Retail Therapy

Now, on to Retail Therapy, which can feel quite therapeutic at the time but isn’t really therapy, and can ultimately cost way more than therapy.

I found that even though I never had much disposable income I did three rather compulsive things when shopping.

1. One-for-you, two-for-me. If I was buying gifts, for Christmas or whatever, and I was in a store spending money, I’d have my credit card out and I’d buy one for you and two (or three...) for me. It was as if once I got started, I couldn’t stop.

2. The bargain-binge. I’d buy stuff just because it was cheap. Even if it didn’t fit particularly well or I didn’t like the colour—hey, it was a bargain.

3. The grocery-grab-all. I couldn’t buy only one of something, especially if it was on sale. If one box of Cheerios was 10 cents off, I’d snatch up two or three of them, even if I couldn’t possibly use them all before the expiration dates.

Here are a few remedies I use now for each of these:

1. One-for-you. When buying gifts, make a list of exactly what you’re going to look for and note what you’ll spend for each item. Leave the credit (and debit) cards at home and take only the amount of cash you need. If you can afford it, allow yourself a few extra dollars to buy yourself something, or, move on to number two…

2. The tuck-away. It never occurred to me that if I’d avoided doing the bargain-binge a few times, I actually could’ve saved up to buy myself something nice, something I actually wanted or needed. Take an envelope and put $5 or $10 in it each week. Save that money for a few months and then buy yourself a quality item you really do want.

3. Get a plan. Make a grocery list and stick to it. Don’t impulse buy and don’t shop when you’re hungry. Again, leave your credit and debit cards at home and take only the cash you need to do your shopping. If you reach for more than one of an item, evaluate to make sure you really need more than one.

Next time: Overcoming the fear of leaving the plastic behind.

1 comment:

Carrie K said...

Don't be silly, it's one for you, one for me.

One suggestion I heard that made it easier in the long run, was to have weekly No Spend Days. No spending any money for anything. This was strangely much harder and easier than it sounded. It was really bizarre what I spent money on some days.