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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Overspending and Overeating – Can You Ever Get Enough?

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Overspending and Overeating: Can you ever get enough? No, not to "make you happy, except temporarily." Did you overspend or overeat during the Holidays? More than usual? Are you not surprised to learn that these two behaviors often go together in the same female? “Compulsive shopping or spending can be a seasonal balm for the depression, anxiety and lonelineness during the December holiday season.”(Professor Ruth Engs, RN, EdD, Indiana University)

We may laugh at the term Shopoholics, and it was treated lightly in the movie by the same name. But overspending, like overeating, can be as serious a problem as any of the “isms” such as alcoholism. How much is enough when it comes to spending and eating and what exactly are we trying to accomplish with our indulgences? Pick your answer: To be social, to have fun, to avoid or distract ourselves from uncomfortable feelings, to feel better? The first two choices can be guilt free, the third one gets us in trouble because it works only temporarily. Then? We compulsively repeat the behavior, hoping to feel better, or to get high, to avoid all those uncomfortable feelings that come up in life.

Gently ask yourself these questions. They’re meant to help you understand more about your eating and spending:

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Did you throw all rules for how much to eat or a spending budget out the window and really overindulge? If so, are you feeling guilt or remorse? Or wondering how to get back on track? Do you have other ways to soothe uncomfortable feelings that don’t have a downside – such as exercise, talking to a friend who’ll tell you the truth, journaling, yoga, a coach or counselor?

Overeating and overspending are behaviors that often go together. Here are suggestions to start the New Year off right, get back on track and have a more conscious Holiday season in 2012:

1)    Gently take responsibility for the overindulgences: Tally up the weight gain and amount of money owed.

2)    Make a realistic plan – A) How much weight am I going to lose by what date? 1 pound a week is realistic – avoid drastic diet loss programs – they don’t work long term. B) What amount of money can I put toward paying off my credit cards each month? C) How will I hold myself accountable? For weight – have an accountability partner, join Weight Watchers or Food Addicts Anonymous? For debt – take a financial awareness course like Dave Ramsey, or speak with a money coach (like myself). 


3)    Understand that the drivers of compulsivity are often feelings. Feelings of anxiety, depression, STRESS that are normal parts of life. Learn to go into those feelings safely, preferably daily. An easy to use guide is TARA (Touch, Accept, Release, Action) available as a FREE download at on right side of page. (from Intentional JOY: How to Turn Stress, Fear & Addiction into Freedom 2009)  

How to Have Less Holiday Stress & More JOY & Love

The Holidays are here, the Holidays are here!! Running as fast as you can yet? Having fun or exhausted already? We look forward to THE HOLIDAYS (many of us-not all) and yet when they get here, we're too pooped to really enjoy them. As Geneen Roth (Women, Food & God) writes, "Passion, strength, and joy cannot take root in exhausted, burdened, half-dead bodies."

What to do? 1) Take a breath. Better yet, take 10. As you do so, really notice your lungs, your belly and your feet. This brings you into your body. When we're stressed or anxious because our "TO DO" list is overwhelming us, we become more stressed by not paying attention to the needs of our body. Remember, your body is doing all the heavy-lifting of Holiday work. If you give it a little TLC, the dividends will allow you to move through the holidays much more gracefully.

What, do you ask, are the needs of your body? Enough rest - sure go to the parties, but not every night. Take a break one night and sit and wrap packages, or do a little baking, and get to bed at a reasonable time. Notice the energy differnce the next day.

2) Try this Holiday Anxiety Buster. Just before you go to sleep each night name at least 1 thing that went well that day. Come can find one. What usuaully happens is that more positive experiences come to mind. A much better way to go off to dreamland.

3) More Love and appreciation equal less stress because love naturally turns on the body's feel good chemicals like oxytocin (the nurturing hormone), or dopamine. If you give love, you also receive love.  How many hugs can you give to needy people today? Mark Victor Hanson, of the Chicken Soup series, says humans need 12 hugs a day for maintenance. I invite and challenge you to give hugs away, especially if you're feeling depleted.  Wouldn't it be great to see someone at the mall with a sign reading: "Free Hugs?"

The point of all this is, if you stay more aware of what you and your body need and actively do stress busting activities you'll experience less stress and more JOY & Love than if you don't. You deserve it. Happy Holidays from my heart to yours.  



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!!