What are the signs of compulsive spending?
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Most of our bankruptcy clients are in debt because of a major issue like unemployment, accident, illness or divorce. But there are a few that have simply spent themselves into excessive debt. Sometimes this is unintentional because they didn't realize how much debt they had accumulated until it all came crashing down. But others have a serious problem that goes beyond casual spending that got out of hand – they have a shopping addiction that is compelling them to part ways with their money compulsively. Does this sound like you?
Here are six signs you may be a compulsive spender:
#1 Shopping Is a Thrill
Compulsive spenders get a rush from spending – almost like a drug user. Shopping addicts obsess about buying things and get excited about the prospect of getting more stuff. It doesn't have to be clothes. It can be shoes, purses, jewelry, electronics, books – really anything tangible. The sensation may be euphoric – like a rush you get when something great happens. But, unfortunately, that good feeling doesn't last and the fallout is bad.
#2 Shopping Is an Escape
When you're having a bad day, does buying something make you feel better? Does a new jacket, pair of shoes, video game or gadget dispel those bad feelings? Do your troubles fade away when you're browsing through a store and picking out things you like? Is every moment you spend choosing things to buy, whether you're personally in a store or scrolling through online shopping sites, the only time you have peace of mind and aren't focused on your problems?
#3 Shopping Is a Secret Shame
Do you hide things you buy so your husband, wife or significant other doesn't know what you've been buying? Compulsive spenders often sneak things into the house, remove the tags or hide them in the closet and pretend it's stuff they already have. Some have a secret stash hidden in their home where they tuck things away. Do you lie about where you've been when you were out shopping because you don't want to admit you can't stop spending?
Compulsive spending causes many problems
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#4 Shopping Is Making You Lie About Money
Do you have credit cards your spouse or loved one doesn't know about? Do you have credit card statements sent to the office or have you cut off all paper statements so that no one can see how much you are spending? Do you have a secret bank account? Have you gotten a pay raise or bonus that you've hidden so you could secretly spend it?
#5 Shopping Causes You Guilt After the Fact
After the rush of spending, are you overwhelmed with buyer's remorse? Do you cry or berate yourself for spending when you know you shouldn't? Do you have to return things because of overspending and does this upset you because you want to keep the stuff? Do you have a spending hangover the day after where you panic and wonder how you could have let yourself get so out of control and worry how you're going to pay for what you've bought?
#6 Shopping Is Ruining Your Finances
Are your credit cards maxed out? Are you only able to pay the minimum monthly payments so that your debt isn't decreasing each month when you make a payment? Are you unable to make some of your debt payments? Are you behind on your car note or mortgage payment because of your overspending? Is your bank account overdrawn? Do you feel like you are buried too deep in debt to ever extract yourself?
If you can answer yes to any of these questions, you may have a compulsive spending problem. If so, you need to address the underlying problem that is causing you to spend excessively. If your over-spending has you too deep in debt to recover, filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy may be the best way to get a financial fresh start- particularly if most of your debt is on credit cards. But a fresh start will only get you so far – you have to get yourself back on the mental and emotional right track so you don't end up back where you were.