Are you a compulsive spender?
How would you answer these questions?
TO SOLVE A PROBLEM, YOU MUST FIRST IDENTIFY IT --
1. Are you still paying bills from purchases made a year ago? (Disregard car and house payments)
2. Do you use credit cards even when the purchase is small and you have the cash?
3. Is your checking account frequently overdrawn?
4. Are you depressed by your finances?
5. Do you feel "out of control" when faced by a buying decision?
6. Do you notice "mood swings" when shopping?
7. Do you shop for recreation?
8. Do you feel free to spend more after clearing up a debt?
9. Do you race to the bank to deposit your paycheck before the checks you have already written come in?
10. Do others kid you about your "champagne taste" and "beer budget?"
11. Do you hope that your children will handle money better than you do?
12. Do you ever give away new things, because you don't really need them?
13. Do you sometimes wonder why you made a particular purchase?
14. Are you often broke by payday?
15. Have you stopped having, or adding to, a savings account?
16. Do you "juggle" payments to keep creditors satisfied?
17. Are your credit accounts usually at the maximum credit line?
18. Do you fear you will sink into bankruptcy if you don't stop spending?
19. Would a small change in your income or an unusual expense throw your finances into chaos?
20. Are you surprised at how much interest you pay creditors annually?
If too many of your answers were "yes," you are probably a chronic over spender. Call Consumer Credit Counseling, which can be found in the telephone directory of any medium or large city near you.
Also, when you go shopping, take with you only as much money as you intend to spend. That includes bank cards and credit cards, except for the gasoline credit cards. Eat before you go grocery shopping.
If a thing is worth having, it is worth making a trip home for. And hopefully, on the way home, your "other self" may click in and you may change your buying decision.
Also, keep in mind that compulsive spending may be related to painful unconscious memories. A clue to treatment of these memories can be found at the pages on TFT. There are other therapies, called EFT, TAT and EMDR, which are very rapid, and very effective.
HOW TO DETERMINE IF YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH DEBT. TAKE THIS TEST:
I spend money in the expectation that my income will increase.
I take cash advances on one credit card to pay off bills on another.
I spend more than 20% of my income on credit card bills.
I often fail to keep an accurate record of my purchases.
I have applied for more than five credit cards in the past 12 months.
I regularly pay for groceries with a credit card.
I often hide my credit card purchases from my family.
Owning several credit cards makes me feel richer.
I pay off my monthly credit bills but let others slide, such as doctor's bills and utility bills.
I like to collect cash from friends in restaurants, then charge the tab on my credit card.
I have trouble imagining my life without credit cards. Now score your responses.
How many times did you answer TRUE?
1-4 True. You can probably keep going. You don't splurge uncontrollably.
5-8 True. Slow down, you have entered the caution zone. It's time to draw up a budget, pay off your bills, and re-evaluate your spending habits.
9-12 True. You have to stop. You might be wise to consult a credit counselor or financial planner for help in changing your spending habits. You may have an impulse control disorder, which should be treated.
Mike Yorkey is editor of Focus on the Family magazine as well as The Christian Family Answer Book. He is the author (or co-author) of several other books, including Saving Money Any Way You Can, Daddy's Home, The Second Decade of Love, and Faithful Parents, Faithful Kids. Mike and his wife, Nicole, have two children.
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