The deceptively metal-sounding Black Friday approaches. For a lot of us, this means hitting the malls with the intention of buying Christmas gifts and ending up binging at Sephora on eye brighteners and $40 dollar tweezers that you don't need and can't afford.According to a new study from Newsweek, compulsive shopping -- or "shopaholism" -- is a very common problem that can stem from boredom, keeping up with the Joneses and depression -- which can hit all of us around the holidays. They spoke to Avis Cardella, author of "Spent: Memoirs of a Shopping Addict," about the slippery slope from spending too much to compulsive buying.
Sure, shopping is therapeutic in small amounts, but it can become a hobby to fill the void and escape feelings or situations we don't want to deal with. The problem is spending when you can't afford the price tag after rent and incidentals are paid. Here are a couple of tips to avoid over-shopping during the tempting holiday season. Your credit score and central nervous system will thank you.
Shop Your Closet.In These Tough Economic Times, it's hip to be practical and really evaluate what you already have. Make a list of items you "need" and shirk away from the "wants." If you have 25 American Apparel T-shirts and are short on sweaters, invest in a good cardigan and mix and match with your wardrobe. NO ONE WILL KNOW BUT YOU.
Netflix, Kindle and Library Cards. Don't rush out to the movies and plunk down $12 for every new release. Get very particular on what needs to be seen on the big screen with an audience and what can wait for Netflix. If you have a problem with a book addiction, join a library and save loads on spending. If you must have the new John Grisham, download to your green and cost-effective e-reader -- you tend to save over $10 on new releases.
Get a Hobby. Too many of us think of shopping as a legitimate hobby, and unless we're heiresses, it's just not realistic or practical. Start following a sports team, join a book group, start a Tumblr, take up knitting, learn a programming language. Get in shape (jogging is free!) and incentivize yourself with a new pair of jeans you can afford. No one is saying shopping is the enemy, just compulsive shopping that comes from a Dark Place.
Take a Long, Hard Look at Your Budget. Make a list of the expenses you have every month, come rain or shine: rent, transportation, phone, electric, and groceries. Determine precisely what is left over and figure out what you're going to have to spend on incidentals. It's sobering to realize that new sweater means no happy hour for a month, or rolling Ramen-stylez for a fortnight.
Hide Yo Debit Card, Hide Yo Visa. This trick can be dangerous if you tend to need lots of emergency funds (you know -- bail money, taxis home from remote motels), but consider going totally or almost plastic-free. Get rid of your ATM card and only take out money AT your bank branch, so you can never spend more cash than you have on hand. It's radical, for sure, but it works.