We hear plenty about the dangers of gambling addictions. Perhaps this is because the compulsion to gamble doesn't make sense to a lot of people, and it is always easier to vilify from a distance.Â Or maybe it's that gambling addictions seem dangerous because a gambler could lose everything in an instant.
By comparison, indulging in little purchases here and there seems rather tame. But even little purchases add up, and when you get a rush from spending, chances are you'll spend more money and spend more frequently to continue to experience that comfort. Just like someone addicted to gambling, you could lose everything; it may not happen in an instant, but little warning signs ignored for years will add up and catch up eventually.
Compulsive spending and shopping addiction are very serious problems that don't get as much attention as they ought to. As a result, there are likely many out there suffering in silence. If you suspect you are a compulsive spender, that bad news is that you may be right--but at least you've recognized that there is a problem that you want out of your life. Admitting you have a problem is, as they say, the first step. If you think you may have a problem with your spending, take a moment to run through some of the items that frequently appear on compulsive spending checklists:
Is pressure from debt affecting your home life? Is it affecting you on the job?
If you are constantly having fights with your loved ones over your spending, or if you find yourself unable to work because of worrying over your debts, these are classic warning signs of trouble.
Is debt changing how you perceive yourself? How others perceive you?
If you are constantly getting down on yourself over your debt, or if you are afraid for people to find out about your spending, these too are warning signs of trouble. Sometimes people with spending problems justify their behavior by telling themselves that they deserve the things they are acquiring because they are better than other people. If you catch yourself in this kind of rationalization, take it as a warning sign.
Do you play fast and loose when it comes to creditors?
If you've ever provided false information in order to obtain credit, or made totally unrealistic promises to your creditors, these may indicate a problem with compulsive spending.
Does spending or taking on debt feel better than it ought to?
Sure, everyone enjoys getting something new, and if you really need a loan and it comes through, it's natural to experience relief. However, if you live for the thrill of spending, or if getting a loan makes you feel like everything is guaranteed to work out no matter what, your relationship to debt may be a poor one.
Does debt affect your health?
If you can't sleep, if you drink or use drugs to avoid thinking about debt, your spending could have serious, lasting effects on your health, and that's nothing to gamble with.
Luckily, more and more awareness of this problem is starting to reach the public. Organizations like Debtor's Anonymous (www.debtorsanonymous.org) are out there to help people dealing with spending addiction.
If you have been struggling with spending addiction problems for years, you may find yourself drowning in credit card debt. If this is the case, keep in mind that bankruptcy can help you take care of your debts for good. Second chances are rare in life, but bankruptcy can provide that for you. If you have a problem, it's time to take decisive action, and to get your life back on track.