Resisting that Irresistible Urge to Spend

Click here to listen on our podcast site, “I Cant Stop Spending!”

Image by George Hodan

Image by George Hodan

Recently, I came across an article about a woman in the U.K. who had to keep a backlog of rent money because there were issues with the property owners being unable to set up a bank account for rent. The article said:

The problem [with the rent money] was only alerted to Ms Bracher upon [her] contacting the company in May, and it has been unable to tell her when the situation is likely to be resolved.

Ms. Bracher has a history of mental health and compulsive spending problems, and she is concerned she will be unable to resist using the accumulating rent for other purposes.

She said: “I have told Network Housing that I am in danger of spending the money and that it is causing a great deal of anxiety having the money in my account, but they do not seem to care.

As a result, I am not sleeping properly and it is having a massive effect on my day-to-day life and health.

They have put me in a vulnerable position as they cannot tell me when the problem will be resolved and I cannot cope much longer.”

Wow! I can sure relate to that. I clearly remember those days when having a pile of money accumulating in my checking account was gasoline poured on the fire of my compulsion to spend.

But I must say that I am awed by Ms. Bracher’s honesty and integrity around this matter. She reached out to them. And she had clear self-awareness of her problem. That buildup of pressure when we accumulate money is all too familiar to me.
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Feeling Your Feelings

Background image by Brocken Inaglory (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Background image by Brocken Inaglory (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Let Me Start with “Jane’s” Story

I want to tell you a story about a fictional person we’ll call Jane.

Jane goes to a job interview that she really wants. She’s already nervous about making a good impression. Unfortunately, she senses the interview goes poorly because it was quite short. When she leaves, she begins to ruminate on why it didn’t go well. She replays it over and over thinking about what she might have said or done differently. She starts beating herself up, telling herself she’s just a screw up and thinking about all the ways she failed. Now, her anxiety over this is ratcheting up.

As her vague discomfort becomes more pronounced, she is feeling more and more aware of the pressure building. But she keeps trying to shove it down or ignore it. Jane goes about her day, but on this subliminal level, she’s continuing to feed herself these negative messages.

When she comes home, as soon as she walks in the door, her husband greets her by asking her to give him a hand with something or other.

BOOM!

Seemingly out of nowhere, Jane starts screaming at him that he’s always wanting her to do something, that he doesn’t appreciate her, that she’s had a long day and why can’t he let her be! Now, she’s furious, adding to the pot she’s been stirring her misplaced anger at her husband .

She storms off into the bedroom, slamming the door.

Jane is also a compulsive spender.

When she’s finally alone, when she has nowhere else to turn, she feels desperate to make herself feel better, to purge this alien tormenting creature that has grown to monstrous proportions inside of her, now finally overcoming all her coping mechanisms. She can no longer ignore the simmering emotions that have burst into flames.
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Getting Off the Seesaw

Click here to listen on our podcast site, “I Cant Stop Spending!”

get-off-the-seesaw1I really enjoy articles from the website “Becoming Minimalist.” In fact, I sometimes repost them to our Facebook page.

In fact, just yesterday, I reposted an article from them called “The Story of Enough: Giving Up (new) Clothes for One Year.”

Without reading more than a paragraph, I clicked the Share button to spread the word.

The thought of how exciting it would be to go one year without buying new items in one or more of my own discretionary categories whipped up my adrenaline to nearly a frenzy.

But the fact is, it’s the idea of it, the past tense of having accomplished it, that excites me … being at the end of that year and having accomplished the goal. The actual pain of having to endure day after day after day without succumbing to temptation or desire … now THAT is a horrifying thought. Having gone through a three-month moratorium on all discretionary spending, I can tell you that for me, anyway, on many days, it was a nightmare of pain and longing, a battle royale with my addiction.

There is a Better Way

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“Money Diet” vs. Spending Moratorium

Click here to listen on our podcast site, “I Cant Stop Spending!”

moratorium1I just came across a December article from New York Magazine called, “Should I Go on a Money Diet This January?” by Charlotte Cowles. It painted a clear portrait of the difference between a budget-minded philosophy and a recovery-centered vision without ever mentioning a 12 Step program.

The thing is, this “diet” philosophy is about extremes. So, people overspend or binge spend in December and then swear off in January to undo the damage. But, to quote the article, “Just like Dry January won’t help if you’re an alcoholic, no money diet will cure compulsive spending habits.”

If you’re like me, once you are in that binge-mode, nothing but running out of credit or hitting some other really severe bottom will make you stop for more than a brief period. Creating a cycle of extremes is really what a compulsive spending addiction is about. Continue reading

(Discretionary) Urgency is Our Enemy

It has recently become clear to me that urgency is one of the most powerful tools in the arsenal of weapons used by our disease to trick us into relapse. Along with adrenaline, urgency is a powerful drug that can drive us to behave counter to our best interests, blinding us to the potential consequences of acting while in its clutches.
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The Life Changing Magic of…

I recently read an interesting article about how losing stuff can change your life.

The author’s bottom line was that “Involuntarily losing shit … brutally takes things away at random and makes you fight to get them back so that you remember and reaffirm the value of each one.”

When I lose stuff, I also often lose perspective and go quite berserk no matter how valuable the lost item. Thankfully, recovery has enabled me to improve in this arena. However, being on an extremely tight spending plan does make the pain run a bit deeper for me as I cannot blithely buy another of anything anymore.
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Spending Moratorium

I did something insane. It didn’t seem insane at the time. But as I sit here today, it sure feels crazy.

Toward the end of May, I decided to enact a three month spending moratorium on a single category: Discretionary. My Discretionary category covers art supplies, books, entertainment, etc.

I guess I didn’t realize that three months was 90 whole days when I made this pledge. Insane, right?

But not really. Probably incredibly sane. Here’s why.
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