My friend mentioned last week that she’d taken herself off to Shopaholics Anonymous (SA) as needed a reality check on her shopping addiction. It seemed appropriate (given the time of year) to ask if she would be happy to write about her experiences for my blog this week – so here is my friend’s perspective on her first SA meeting.
Buffy the Credit Card Slayer ….
Like many of us I have a credit card. In my case I’ve had it since I was eighteen and it has never been paid off in full (in fact it has even been taken off me at times). I am an emotional shopper – I buy to change the way I feel. I’ve bought items to change my life and barely used them (the guitar/writing desk for the novel/how-to books and a huge array of camping gear springs to mind). I have clothes still in bags, hidden in my wardrobe so my partner doesn’t see them. I have a vague idea of how much I owe, but can’t give you an exact figure (I don’t want to, either) and I avidly buy bargains while I am paying out huge amounts of interests to banks. I go overboard at the supermarket (because it is legitimate spending) and I give gifts that I really can’t afford to keep up appearances. I’ve never stuck to a budget and periods of frugality are usually followed by a huge splurge. Oh, and I buy shoes I can’t walk in and I can justify any purchase. Why I am not a trial lawyer, I will never know.
I was muddling along in denial when I had what 12-step groups call a rock bottom.
Now, rock bottoms are very personal and tend to relate to whatever you are struggling with. My friend stopped drinking after she made a pass at her boss at the Xmas party – for her that was horrifying. One friend hit rock bottom after her husband had his fourth affair. Another hit the wall when she couldn’t get into size 24 clothes any more. Basically, it is whatever hurts so bad that you say “Enough is enough; I don’t want to feel this way anymore.”
In a nut shell, I spent a morning with my mother (emotional trigger) headed straight for the shops and blew the money set aside for my partner’s wisdom teeth to be extracted. The shame & guilt I felt afterwards make me sick to my stomach.
I needed help so I went to the Spiritual Guru – i.e. Google. I looked up shopaholic anonymous…no…tried shopaholics….no…tried overspending anonymous…shopping disease? I finally tracked this down: http://www.12steps.co.nz/Debtors_Anonymous.php
The name was rather off-putting – was I a debtor? Well, according to my bank, yes I was.
Off I trotted to the meeting – and it was fantastic. I was welcomed by a friendly group of affluent-looking people (I had been expecting bag ladies) who talked about one day at a time, solvency, propensity and emotional shopping. If you desperately want to change how you relate to money and want tools to get yourself out of debt and start creating a future (instead of borrowing from it) – join this group.
Me? Well, it’s only been six days but I have cut up my credit card and am selling unneeded items on Trade Me. I only carry cash and it is a set amount. I’m leaving my Eftpos card at home – let’s face it, it deserves a holiday!
Watch me work my way back from debtor to investor, a dollar at a time.
Buffy the Credit Card Slayer