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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

What is Your Tipping Point? When retail therapy becomes a compulsion

If you are reading this blog you may have before now asked yourself, "When does my 'retail therapy' become a real, serious concern?" Meaning, do I need help with controlling my urges to splurge? This question was posed to me in a recent interview with Stephanie Berenbaum of the website Fabulous & Frugal. I thought it was an excellent question because it draws the line as to when a person needs professional assistance beyond helpful information offered in magazines, talk shows and valuable websites geared to provide "guidance" as opposed to psychological help.

My answer was not black or white, but, of course, grey. The tipping point for one person is not the same as the tipping point for another and the process of a professional assessment can help differentiate what the tipping point for a specific person is and what a treatment plan in helping someone would look like.

However, this blog is for you, right now, to begin, perhaps, in asking yourself, where am I at? Do I compulsively shop in terms of my own values, limitations, standards and variables? Here are some questions, also offered on my website,, that you can ask yourself today, in this very moment.

  • A=Almost Always
  • O=Once in Awhile
  • I=Infrequently
  • N=Not at all

  • Do you buy things you want even if you know at that moment you do not have the money to pay for it?
  • Is it difficult for you to save money?
  • When you have some “extra” cash that you could save, instead, you think of other things you would like to buy?
  • Do you cheer yourself up or give yourself a reward by “going shopping”?
  • Does more than a third of your income go to pay credit card bills (not including rent or mortgage payments)?
  • Have you had to move credit lines because you typically don’t have the money to pay off your credit line?
  • Do you pay the minimum balance on your credit card most of the time?
  • Are you inclined to keep buying more of your favorite things- clothes, makeup, cd’s, books, computer software, electronic gadgets – even though you do not have a specific need for them?
  • When and if you have to say “NO” to yourself, or control yourself from buying something you really want, do you feel intensely deprived, angry or upset?
If you have four or more A’s and O’s you have overspending tendencies. If you answered A or O to the last question, you are most likely someone who may grapple with compulsive shopping. That question seems to be the most potent indicator of a serious problem.

So, now that you have taken this small, yet meaningful, quiz, where do you think you stand in relationship to your spending trends and ideals? How would you determine your tipping point and what would you base it on?

Please, write your responses and we will start a dialogue!