Shopping & Loneliness: A Perfect Match

Shopping and loneliness go together like a perfectly matched pair of shoes. I was having lunch with two business women friends yesterday and I asked them what they saw as money challenges women face. "When I'm stressed I shop. It makes me happy, sort of." My other friend said, "I eat and it's comforting, but then I feel guilty." Shopping, food - Bingo. Quick Relief - then guilt!
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Stop Holiday Overspending Stress

The Holidays can be loads of fun and terrifically stressful. For women, it's all the extra work to do; shopping, wrapping, parties to plan, cooking and family to be around that may trigger old feelings.
To cope with stressful feelings, some women shop more, spend more and eat more. (Yes, women also overeat to cope with stress.)
Do you love to shop and buy? Are the Holidays a great excuse to do so? Notice if you can relate to these questions and please don't beat yourself up if you do.1) Do you overspend or overshop frequently? 2) Overspend though you can't afford to? 3) Do you shop, buy or overspend as the major way to deal with negative feelings like anxiety, anger, lonliness?  Remember this, you're not alone.
According to experts on you may be suffering from Compulsive Buying Disorder*. Though only a small percentage of the population has the actual disorder and I view addictive behaviors on a continuum (imagine a straight  line across the page) with one end of the continuum those that have no compulsive spending or addictive shopping issues and the other end those whose lives are unmanageable. If you're at the extreme end you're experiencing things like relationship problems (because of debt or money behaviors), money problems, or work issues.  You probably also feel a lot of guilt, but don't know how to stop the behavior. For those that fit here, take a breath, and please deal with the problem, because it's not going to go away. There are therapists online, online support groups and therapists in your area. Use google or ask friends.
For those of you in the middle of the continuum that relate to overspending due to stress or the pressures of the holidays here are a couple things you can do.  1)  Look at money available in your checking or savings account. 2) Make a list of who you're going to buy for and use only the budgeted amount. 3) Stick to the list and take it with you when you go shopping. 4) Try to shop early in the day when your energy is good. 5) If you need to, take a friend with you that knows you're trying to stick to a budget. And, remember, changing behavior requires practice.  Happy Holidays and you can email me at to let me know how you do.


*Uncontrolled Spending: A Clinician’s Guide to Compulsive Buying Ronald J. Faber, University of Minnesota 

7 Money Tips to Cut Stress & Stay Sane During Holiday Shopping!

Big surprise - not everyone loves the holidays. The holidays are busy, stressful, expensive and emotionally tense, depending on family dynamics. I enjoy them once I get over my annual resistance, which starts in August when Christmas decorations appear, and releases when I finally give in, usually sometime around Thanksgiving.

If you’d like to the best chance of staying relatively sane during the holidays and NOT going over BUDGET here are 7 Tips to help you do so.

1) The Budget: First figure out how much IN TOTAL you want to spend on the Holidays. Include gifts, food, wrapping paper, party clothing (now we’re talking), hair & beauty products and of course alcohol. The average shopper spent $704 in 2010 and is projected to spend $14.00 less this year – who figures out this stuff?)*

2) Make a list of giftees - what you’re going to buy and the AMOUNT you are going to spend. Take the list with you when you shop – STICK to the list. (I’ve done this for years, primarily because if I didn’t make a list I wouldn’t remember who, what or how much.) Resist impulse buying - refer to the LIST!

3) SAVE the list. In fact, type it into your phone or Ipad, or if you’re technically challenged like me, at least do a word doc and save. Print & take with you. (Make sure you look at it when you’re shopping. – Resist impulse buying. - Hear the theme?)

4) How will you pay? Hopefully, you started saving Jan 1 of 2011 and now have at least $704.00 in your account. If not, how much have you saved – again – what’s your budget? How will you pay for purchases? Credit Card, debit card, cash? What’s the absolute limit you will put on said Credit card?  How will you support yourself to stick to this limit?

5) Shop early. Perhaps not in August, but sometime before Christmas Eve Day. Although I have to say I love to go to the mall that day, and look at all the male shoppers scurrying around. I feel smug because except for the cinnamon rolls I’ll pick up at Cinnabons, I’m usually done. (Wrapping? That’s another matter)

6) If your budget is small this year, don’t feel alone. Consider homemade gifts or a gift of time card. Family members can offer coupons for Special Nights of Sitting, yard mowing, prepared Meals. If you’re artistic (not me) you can create something unique – it’s the thought – remember. Be original.

7) If you can manage to do and stick to numbers 1-6 your stress should stay quite sane this holiday season. The odds are you won’t do this. If that’s true though don’t despair – just do what you do every year, and you’ll make it, as always.  For next year - do start saving Jan 1 – $58.67 a month = $13.55 a week = $704. Just start!!