Overcoming the Urge to Splurge

ahylton (sxc.hu)

Shop till you drop may sound fun and funny — but compulsive overspending is no joke.

Warning signs: Hiding purchases from family… spending money when you swore you wouldn’t… falling into debt.

 To rein in spending…

Identify underlying needs that fuel your spending — then satisfy them in other ways. Want to impress people? Read up on current events and get noticed for your insights instead of your outfits. Feel lonesome? Phone a friend. Deprived? Buy a cappuccino, not a new purse.

Explore alternative activities. To surround yourself with beautiful objects, skip stores and visit an art museum instead. If you love books, try the library, not a bookstore.

Get a healthful “high.” The brief thrill of the purchase often leads to buyer’s remorse. Get regret-free joy from exercise — even just a brisk walk — which releases “feel-good” endorphins in the brain.

“Shop” in your own closets. Pull out clothes seldom worn, pictures still unhung, cosmetics never opened. Pretend you’re in the store seeing them for the first time. Invite friends to bring their own little-used stuff and have a swap, donating leftovers to charity. You’ll clean your closets, rediscover previously purchased treasures, get new goods, feel generous — and won’t spend a cent.

Judy Kuriansky, PhD, a clinical psychologist on the faculty of Columbia University Teacher’s College in New York City. She is author of five books.

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