As a therapist and a shoe enthusiast I’ve done some research on overspending. Impulsive spending seems to be the final frontier of addiction. There’s a twelve-step group for just about everything, and yet even in the era of corporate bailouts and mass home foreclosure, support groups for spending aren’t exactly available on every street corner. Why is this? I can think of at least two reasons:
The next time you feel the urge to make an impulsive purchase, try asking yourself these questions:
Why am I here?
How do I feel?
Do I need this?
What if I wait?
How will I pay?
Where will I put it?
1. No one wants to talk about it. Overspending is a bad habit that has not come out of the closet. We can freely talk about our drug addiction or co-dependence, but to be addicted to clothes, cars or home decor just doesn’t get the same acceptance, even though it leads to the same amount of suffering.
2. You can’t exactly go cold turkey when it comes to spending. With most addictions, the treatment includes abstinence, at least for a while. It’s almost impossible to stop spending entirely, unless you have a supportive partner who will do the grocery shopping and take care of other basic needs during your period of abstinence.
Since we can’t freely talk about it and we can’t avoid it, we tend to just shrug and keep spending until the debt is insurmountable. But it doesn’t have to end this way. A little mindfulness can help when it comes to moderating your spending habits. April Lane Benson is a New York-based therapist suggest making a wallet-sized card with the following questions which can be helpful if you are trying to change your spending patterns:
- Why am I here?
- How do I feel?
- Do I need this?
- What if I wait?
- How will I pay?
- Where will I put it?
I would suggest adding to Benson’s six questions a seventh: What do I really need right now? Often the answer to this question has nothing to do with acquiring more stuff.
You might also want to try going to your favorite store without your wallet. This can be intense so don’t forget to engage some mindful breathing.
How has mindfulness changed your shopping habits? Please let us know.