Are you filling an ’empty shell?’

How to heal your spending problem

No matter who you are or where you come from—all of us have a coping mechanism that’s unique to us.

Some people internalize their feelings . . . hold onto them and then release them at a later time. While others hold nothing in and do whatever it takes to get an immediate sense of release and gratification through acting out in whatever way they’ve conditioned for themselves.

We don’t develop a coping style or mechanism overnight. Usually it takes years of conditioning to determine what gives us an escape from our pain or stress.

I’ve witnessed family and friends find relief through gambling, drinking and binge eating. It’s upsetting to watch, but “relieving” to the participant while they’re in the moment. But it’s not always successful. For some of them their coping mechanisms fail, their pain comes back and on occasion a sense of guilt sets in. It’s during this time that they’re forced to reflect on their actions and they then discover that their original problem(s) is still be there accompanied by more negative self-talk.

When we find release through destructive acts outside of ourselves—we’re not fixing anything, but rather exacerbating the problem. We’re wreaking more havoc on an already undesirable situation and adding to the depth and longevity of our emotional troubles.

Relief via shopping

What I’m exploring today is the release some get through spending. Surely you’ve heard the term ‘shopping spree’ thrown around playfully. It’s a short period of time where an individual may buy a lot of things, spend a lot of money . . . and discover a short-lived sense of release from the pain in their lives or from whatever is troubling them in the moment. These folks are also labeled “shopaholics.”

Don’t get me wrong, shopping sprees sound fun and could be fun if you have the means to spend and the implications of your actions won’t harm your bank account or credit score. But that’s not the type of extravagant spending I’m talking about here.

It’s the type of shopping trip taken by those of us who are struggling to manage our credit card debt, mortgage and car payment etc. . . . yet we still feel as though we need to buy more things to fill some void in our minds and hearts. What we’re doing in these instances is trying to make ourselves feel better about the pitiful situation we’ve made for ourselves or have been born into.

For those who are already on financially rocky ground, a spending spree can be detrimental to their already upsetting finances. If you’re someone who does this, you’re your own problem and your coping mechanism is only making your life more difficult to manage.

It’s time to find a new, healthy outlet—a different path to take when things in your life are spiraling out of control. If you want to become financially healthy and free from money troubles, you’ll have to evaluate what is ailing you and practice discipline to find the relief you truly need.

Here’s how I cope with my stress, and you can too:

This is by no means a complete list, rather three tips to get you started on curing your spending ills.

1. Go on a walk or run. Yes, walk or run from your urges. Get as far away from your purse or wallet as you can if it means it’ll keep you from buying something to make you feel better. You don’t need a thing or gadget to fill the void. You’re better and stronger than that. You need a clear head in order to think better about the given situation.

2. Phone a friend. In true friendships you can let yourself be vulnerable. If you’re having a rough go of things, call or text and friend and tell them you’re not doing so hot. Let them know that all you want to do is go to Target and buy home goods.

If they’re truly your friend and they know about your money troubles, they’ll listen to you with an open heart and mind. Phoning a friend can serve as a solid distraction from your troubles and hopefully give you enough positive vibes to keep you from hanging up on them and going to Target anyway. Accountability is key. Good friends won’t be afraid to tell it to you straight and keep you in check.

3. Look at your checking/savings account balances. This might not work for everyone, especially if the majority of your emotional pain stems from a lack of money, but for some, viewing your account balances could give you a swift kick in the pants to keep you from shopping.

I know some people check their account balances even before their weekly grocery store run as a way to keep them in check. It’s much easier to stick to your list if you know how much money you have on hand and how much you can spare.

If you like how I think or how I write and want to follow more of me, check me out on Twitter @cheapgirlsaves.

Please leave other ideas in the comment section below. I want to know what you have to say and what tips you might have to offer.

Peace and much love.



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