Feelgood Health

Are You A Shopaholic? How To Control Overspending: Our Clinical Psychologist's Top Tips

It happens every year over the festive season – we get caught up in the Christmas spirit and overspend. This holiday tradition of overspending often leads to financial woes right into the new year.  Our Clinical Psychologist looks at some of the most common reasons that people overspend and how YOU can avoid the shopaholic blues!

1. Can’t say NO!

“I hear this all the time.” Some people, especially parents feel immense pressure at Christmas time to give their kids fabulous gifts.  From X-boxes, cellphones, iPads and cameras to expensive clothing and jewellery, people struggle to say no to their loved ones. The reason for this is that if you aren’t able to say yes, you tend to feel like a failure because you cannot provide the person with what they want. In many cases, this type of person will go to the end of the earth to ensure that they buy the gift – even if they cannot afford it and even if it means they end up being in debt.   

Solution:
It’s normal to want to give your child or spouse a gift that they would really want but sometimes those items may not fit into your budget, especially if they happen all too often. Learn to say no and don’t feel bad about it. Teach your kids the true meaning of Christmas – it’s about being with loved ones and spending the time together – not about spending money! 
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2. Keeping up with the Jones’

Your friends are going to Thailand for the holidays, the neighbours have bought a new car and your colleague just got a new iPhone – you also want those things or better! Many people feel that if they don’t maintain a certain image, the friends, families, colleagues or neighbours will think less of them. Living beyond your lifestyle will only keep you in debt and may even lead to bankruptcy if you aren’t careful.

Solution:
The first lesson here is stop comparing yourself to others. The truth of the matter is that you don’t really know  what someone else’s financial picture looks like – lots of people make the mistake of seeing the success of others  as their own failure. Always remember that you don’t know what they are going through and it’s most likely that they are also living above their means.

Learn to spend less and live within your means, and seek help if you’re a compulsive spender. Very often people spend recklessly because they are trying to fill a void in their lives. Change your mindset  and rather invest that energy in a new hobby or spending time with family or friends.
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3. You have extra cash

It’s the end of the year and you’ve received your bonus. Is it time to go crazy and spend it all? This is a huge mistake that lots of people make! Suddenly you find yourself with extra money to spare and it’s the festive season, so why not go on a shopping spree? 

Solution:
While it’s tempting to indulge and spend your extra cash on goodies that you’ve been lusting after during the year – DON’T go crazy! Be smart by planning and setting a budget for yourself. Yes, you’ve worked hard throughout the year and you deserve to spoil yourself but don’t go overboard. Settle outstanding debts and put any extra cash that you have into a savings account. Just think, wouldn’t it be nice to start the new year off debt free and have some extra money stashed away?
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4. It’s on sale

At this time of the year and after the festive season, stores will be having sales – 50% off, 25% off or combo deals. Most of us are always looking for the best deal and easily tempted when we see those sale signs. Because we are in spending mode, we often believe that we are scoring and getting a good deal.

Solution:
As tempting as sales are, they are just another marketing ploy to lure consumers to buy more. When it’s a sale, you are actually buying goods that you wouldn’t have bought if it wasn’t on a sale and that you don’t really need.  Stay strong and don’t be tempted into buying unnecessarily – avoid shop sales by only buying what you intended to in the first place.
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5. Poor childhood

This is quite a common one too! People who grew up poor or deprived as a child often feel the need to overspend as an adult. They will spend their money on everything especially over the Christmas period.

Solution:
These  individuals are overcompensating for perceived lack they experienced when growing up. They may also be vicariously trying to give their children what they did not have. However,  this kind of attitude towards money and spending sets a bad precedent for your children and how they will view their finances in the future. If you are aware that this is why you overspend, you may want to speak to a counsellor or therapist. Alternatively, consult a financial advisor and learn how to budget and spend within your means.
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6. Emotional spending

Aaah! Shopping! It’s your favourite past time. You can’t walk into a store without buying something – you just have to have it. At the time that you entered the store, you may not even have needed that particular item but there it was staring you – and the rest is history!

Solution:
If you are buying things that you didn’t initially intend to buy or don’t need, then you are an emotional spender. Some people will shop based on the way they are feeling at the time – if they are happy, unhappy, angry, bored or stressed, they go out and spend money to make themselves feel better. Emotional spending is a distraction for not dealing with what you are really feeling. It will not solve the problem or make you feel better. Find out what the underlying issue is and work towards addressing it so that you don’t find yourself cash strapped and in debt.
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Do I have a problem?

We all overspend from time to time, but how do you know when it is serious and you need some help? Just like a drug, overspending can be an addiction that has underlying reasons which need to be addressed. If your overspending is causing serious financial problems or affecting your relationships, but you are unable to stop, you may have a deeper problem that needs professional help.

In the Feelgood Health range, natural remedies such as MindSoothe and PureCalm can help to balance emotions and help you deal more effectively with underlying issues that affect you. MindSoothe is a herbal remedy which helps to promote all round emotional and psychological health. It encourages balanced mood and feelings of wellbeing without the risk of addiction or negative side effects. PureCalm brings swift relief from episodes of anxiety, stress, irritability or nervous tension – a few drops will keep you calm and instantly relaxed.
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