Attention Shopaholics: Tips for Getting Your Financial Priorities in Order

Most of us love shopping, and who doesn’t like finding a great bargain? The truth is, however, that sometimes the joys of shopping evolve beyond something we do just do get the things we need or splurge a little on something nice.  For some people, shopping becomes a real problem, and can even border on a compulsion.

It doesn’t matter if you are finding the best deals around.  If you can’t afford these great deals you’re finding, and you’re digging yourself deeper into debt to buy all these fantastic sale items, then it’s time to take a step back and adjust your financial outlook on shopping.

How do you know if your spending has become a problem? Look for these signs:

  • You’re running out of money for the things you need.  The end of the month rolls around and you although you have a really nice new pair of pants and a completely fierce pair of shoes you bought at the beginning of the month, you have to rely on your credit card to buy groceries.
  • You shop just because there is a sale.  Your closet is stocked with clothes that you still haven’t removed the tags from, yet when you find out there is a clearance sale going on you’re out the door with your wallet in your hand.
  • You feel bad after your shop.  On the drive home, do you find yourself thinking about how you really shouldn’t have spent all that money? Do you find yourself justifying the purchases by telling yourself you deserve them even though you can’t really afford them?
  • Other people notice your penchant for shopping.  If you’re tired of people calling you a Shopaholic, maybe it’s time to start to think about why they have given you the title.  Sometimes people joke about things that they are actually concerned about because they don’t know how else to approach the subject.
  • You just know there is a problem. If you find yourself muttering, “I really have to stop shopping so much,” or something equally revealing then stop muttering and start listening to yourself.

A packed sales rack can be quite enticing, and a huge store-wide clearance sometimes proves irresistible, but indulging in some bargain shopping should never be to the detriment of your personal finances.  Remember that there is a definite hierarchy of where your money should go:

1. Basic necessities, like food and utilities

2. Savings and/or investments (401k, Emergency Fund)

3. Recurring bills (cable, cell phone)

4. Extra indulgences (designer handbag, a pair of Uggs)

Although some financial folks will argue over what order these needs should go, the fact remains that there are some things that need your money’s attention more than the sales rack at your favorite store.  You should budget your bargain shopping just like you would budget for anything else.

Remember:  Just because something is on sale does not necessarily mean it’s a great deal.