You are intelligent, competent, well-dressed, usually, and quite a charmer when you want to be. How could you be in such a financial mess? There are bills to the left of you, bills to the right of you, and collectors in your face. Or at the very least, nightmares, and money obsessions for hours at a time. How could this have happened to a nice person like you?
I bet your family did it to you. Children are like ducklings–they pattern themselves after the first adults they see. If your mother hid new clothes from your father, if father got sick and every penny had to be pinched, if one of them was an alcoholic and money disappeared into the bottles, your family distorted your money sense.
Too, look at society. We are awash in debt. Yet even financial counselors tell us we can, once in a while, use credit as long as we keep just the one credit card we need for emergencies. This is counter human-nature. Do you use your credit cards only for emergencies? I’m guessing the last thing you bought on your credit card was probably not baby formula.
Who else can we look at to see who is to blame for your financial mess? How about neighbours, friends and TV? Ain’t it awful to see your neighbour drive up with a new snow blower while you break your back with that snow shovel from hell? Doesn’t it make you squirm when you best bud goes on a winter vacation, a cruise yet, and you have to say you like taking vacation time to putter around the house? And doesn’t the TV show you like place people in lovely homes, with great clothes, not to mention fabulous restaurants? Or at the very least, in a great car? We are inundated with images of other people’s cool stuff,and feel inferior as a result.
Have you ever considered that you may suffer from sensory overload when you enter a store? Those lights, the colours, the noise, the crowds, the multiplicity of choices. These things can actually overwhelm your brain and make you drop your guard. You go into a zone. We know there are psychologists in the employ of stores whose job it is to suggest product placement for ultimate purchasing. We are lab rats trained to press the lever. Some of us are more susceptible to these influences than others. Bet you are.
But those external influences are only one side of the story. Take a look inside yourself. It is possible that you have a small learning disability around numbers. People do. No matter how many times you add those figures, you get a different answer, even with a darn calculator!
Another thing that induces people to spend when they shouldn’t is the adrenalin rush of shopping. Ever notice your face getting flushed, your hands shaking a little, your speech getting faster? You are in ecstacy here. Hard to beat that feeling, except in private.
There is more though that may be pressuring you to spend when you shouldn’t. Probably, you are simply vague about the money you have, the money you owe, and what’s still available to spend. You are vague because you do not want to know or are afraid to know. This is that image of the ostrich with its head in the sand.
You may also be a clutter bug. You don’t know what you do and do not have in all those piles. You buy multiples of things because you can’t remember or find the one you had.
Your emotions can also trigger you to get out and reduce anxiety with retail therapy. You are feeling afraid of some change or some person. You reduce that anxiety by concentrating on the rows of goods before you, and the feeling of competence in making a smart purchase. You are not the stupid idiot you feel, or that s/he calls you.
You also may feel shame about your present financial situation, and go out of your way to present to the world a picture of the well-groomed, competent, successful person. BUt that takes money which you do not have, so you go into debt.
You use purchasing items as a way to reduce your anxiety around these external and internal pressures. How has that worked for you up ’til now?
There is a solution. It is as simple as these seven steps:
1: Write down your income.
2: Create a spending plan which meets your real needs and wants, including vacations, and your enduring dreams.
3. Comparison shop without your wallet.
4. Wait 72-hours before you make a major purchase, and talk about it with a shopping-sane person.
5: Stay out of stores, places, or online sites that make you crazy, even if it’s thrift stuff.
6. Subtract what you spend from your category totals in your spending plan as you spend it.
7: No matter who is to blame, you are the one left suffering with that bag and receipt in your hand. You can’t help it. So, ask your Higher Power to help you be sane and solvent around any financials today. It’s your ace up your sleeve and your best hope.