When my shopping behavior was out of control, I had a good friend who often came shopping with me. She was my shopping pal. We’d tool around the mall together trying on clothes and providing an assessment into the worthiness of a purchase.
When I’d get home from shopping, my then husband never said a word to me about how much money I spent. Even though I knew he was anxious about my spending habits, he never once told me to stop, gave me an ultimatum or tried to help me see that what I was doing was detrimental not only me but our entire families financial future.
After my divorce with more than half the money available to me was gone, I still continued to shop like nothing had changed.
Related: My Debt Free Journey
Almost every day I get a message from a reader who is at wits end with a shopaholic family member. Sometimes it’s a wife who’s out of control husband is compounding their fragile financial situation, and sometimes it’s a husband who has recently found his wife’s recent shopping hoard. Occasionally it’s a parent fed up with their child’s out of control spending habits.
What they all have in common, besides their shopaholic family member is the fact they are all enablers.
How To Stop Enabling The Shopaholic In Your Life
To understand your role in the shopaholics life and drama we first need to understand what’s happening with the shopaholic.
People shop for a lot of reasons.
- They do it to feel better
- To keep up with others
- Because they think they are entitled
- To relieve stress
- To make them happy
- To take their mind off their problems
- Or simply out of habit
Most shop to fill an unmet emotional need in their lives. Money and consequently shopping becomes the way in which they fill that void where they needs are not being met.
No matter what the issue and whether or not the shopaholic can look at the above statement and have any insight into its truth in their life doesn’t make that statement any less valid or true.
They way to end the shopping drama is to find out what’s missing and fill the void with something real, sustainable and life changing.
Shopping will never do that because you can’t shop your way to happy, joyful, content, or any other positive emotion.
Related: The First Step To Becoming Debt Free
So what do you do if someone in your life is a shopaholic?
First you need to look at the ways in which you are enabling their behavior. If you never say no to them, or encourage them in any way to shop, you are in fact enabling their behavior.
If you never let them feel the natural consequences of their behavior because you’re there to rescue them, solve the problem, or fix it in some way – you are in fact enabling their behavior.
There’re a lot of reasons why enablers don’t step up to the plate and intervene. It takes a lot of courage to insert yourself into the shopaholics behavior and attempt to point out what they’re doing. Some people just don’t want to rock the boat. Some don’t have the strength for the fight that will ensue. Some don’t care enough.
But if you’re living with someone who’s putting your family on the cliff to financial ruin because of their shopping behaviors, it behooves you to do something about it.
If you don’t want your family member or friend to ruin their lives, then it’s up to you to do something about it.
Before you approach them, sit down and make a list of the ways in which their shopping is affecting the family, you and them negatively. Don’t be judgmental about this, just state the facts about what’s happening. You want to do this from a place of love and concern, not judgment. If you are going to judge them, the intervention won’t work.
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Loving them, sharing your concerns from a place of sincerity is what’s going to help them see what they are doing and be willing to change.
Find the right time to have this conversation. If your husband is spending too much money, don’t approach him after a long day at the office. Let him unwind, have the kids in bed, or go somewhere private where you can talk uninterrupted.
When you’re face to face, start out by letting the person know how much you care about them and how much their behavior is negatively affecting the family. Be ready to have some bottom lines ready. What won’t you be willing to tolerate anymore? What will change in your relationship if they refuse to address their over shopping? I can’t tell you what to those bottom lines will be, only you can decide that.
But I can tell you, you must keep to your bottom lines when they engage in overspending, or nothing will change. If you go back and rescue them and don’t allow them to face the consequences nothing will ever change.
Lastly, if you’re a couple, work together to fix your money situation. You need to be actively involved and to work through open communication to fix your finances.
Helping the shopaholic requires enablers to step away and change the way they interact with the shopper. Only by removing yourself from the role of enabler and having a firm bottom line, will you be able to have any effect on their behavior.
Remember always to come from a place of love and concern and you’ll more than likely have a good response.