One of my wife’s closest friends is completely addicted to shopping, and unsurprisingly she spends a lot of time juggling credit card bills and dumping huge amounts of cash into finance charges just to gain enough breathing room to shop some more.
Recently, she’s begun to see that things are going to have to change in order for her to get financially ahead in life. Here are the ten tips I offered her to help her break her shopping addiction.
“Shop” without any method of payment. If the in-store experience is what you crave, then simply go there without any method of payment. This method lets you spend your time there as you wish, but keeps you from putting anything else on the credit card.
Do a spring cleaning. Go through all the stuff you have and decide which things you actually need – or even want. Collect together all of the useful stuff in one place, then really look at it. For some, the sight of how many useless things they’ve wasted their money on often can shock them into a change.
Chop up your credit cards. Don’t allow yourself the option of charging any more – simply chop up your cards and delete those numbers from any online accounts that may use them. This way, the only method you have available to you to spend is your actual cash.
Avoid the stores altogether. Do anything at all besides going to the stores where you’re tempted to waste money. Whenever you even think about the possibility, just do something else.
Change your routine. If part of your daily or weekly routine is to go to a particular place where you’re tempted to spend, change the routine. This may involve finding a new commute or any number of things, but the key is to take temptations out of your daily routine.
As a friend, however, you can go an extra step to help someone overcome their shopping addiction. Here are five things I am willing to do to help her out to get past her addiction.
Introduce her to inexpensive activities. She can come along when we do free, fun stuff like spending time in the park, doing volunteer work, and so on. These things can be a ton of fun, and so I strive to show her the fun parts of doing things where you don’t have to come home with an empty wallet.
Show her how to shop frugally. I could also go on shopping trips with her, showing her how to shop frugally and find good deals on stuff. Instead of dropping $300 at a clothes store, spend some time looking at what’s available at less-expensive clothes outlets.
Help her rework her budget. Spending an afternoon with her going through her spending in detail and showing her some better ways to optimize her money. This works well if the person is also taking some steps to actually curb their spending, as she is.
Invite her over to eat. We make simple, frugal meals all the time at home, while she usually eats out. Thus, inviting her over to eat and getting her involved in the food preparation works really well. It takes ten minutes to make a big batch of spaghetti, requires two pans and a bit of silverware, and makes enough that you can eat it multiple nights – a perfect example of how to cut down on spending. As does the crockpot.
Offer lots of encouragement. This seems strange to some: encouraging a friend not to shop? The best way to do this is to keep tabs on what they’re doing and make it clear that not buying a bunch of stuff is in fact a great, positive thing. Have a party for them when they pay off a credit card, for instance.