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Are you a shopaholic? This post is for you!

by:
Elsa Michaels

Do you love to shop till you drop? Do you have clothes in your closet that still have tags on them? Perpetually broke? You are probably a shopaholic and you’re not alone.

You’d think that since the Great Recession of 2009 and the consequent rise in unemployment, combined with high gas prices and consumer debt levels at the highest they’ve ever been, you’d think that we Canadians would have curbed our spending even just a little bit. Not so, in fact, while economic growth in 2011 grew at a slower pace than 2010, spending in the fourth quarter of 2011 actually increased from the previous quarter! This was good news for the economy, but bad news for our individual bank accounts, and if you were like me, you’re probably hurting financially. Many of us are.

And yet, even with consumer spending and debt so high, virtually on the brink of collective financial disaster, we are still bombarded with messages that encourage us to spend, consume and keep up with the Joneses. Sure, there was a brief moment in 2009 where frugality became fashionable, but just as quickly, “bling” and over the top everything, including consumption, too over again. Just look at all of the reality shows breaking ratings records across multiple TV networks, many of them feature lives of the very wealthy (or so they seem). With so many people watching these “aspirational” television shows, plus all the messages we receive from commercials, billboard ads, music, and the media in general, it seems almost impossible to NOT become a shopaholic.

I admit that I too fell into that trap of spending, whether it was to relieve stress or out of boredom, my spending because out of control and I nearly lost my apartment as a result. I had no choice but to quit cold turkey. How does one quit cold turkey? It’s actually quite simple: cut out the temptation:

1.Avoid reading fashion and celebrity gossip magazines. Many people find them to be a form of escapism, or they love celebrity culture or fashion, but for those of us that have a bad spending habit, these magazines can become enabling.

2.Cut down on the television. Like certain magazines, commercials and certain TV shows create can normalize over-consumption.

3.Stay away from shopping centres! Until you have your spending (and debt) under control – I mean it! If you can’t help but buy something every time you step into a store, then you and the mall need some space. Shop strictly for groceries. And carry a list.

Like the rest of Canada, shopping might have become out of control for you, but if you cut out the sources of temptation, then over time, you’re urge to spend will cool off too.

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