Spend, spend, spend

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - LIFE - An­nie Lane Dear An­nie

I seem to have a prob­lem. A cou­ple of months ago, I started to ap­ply for and re­ceive credit cards. I was ap­proved for five credit cards plus a num­ber of shop-now, pay-later plans.

Well, I ended up go­ing nuts. I shopped and shopped and shopped some more, un­til all of my credit cards were maxed out. I shopped in stores and spent hours shop­ping on­line. Even af­ter the bills started com­ing in, I con­tin­ued to shop us­ing those shop-now, pay-later plans. Of course, now I am in debt.

I have stopped shop­ping now that ev­ery­thing is maxed out. I be­lieve that I will have the means to pay for my mas­sive shop­ping sprees, but it will be rough. I am just cu­ri­ous to know: What hap­pened to me?

— Crazy Shop­per in NY

If I had a nickel for every person who’s been se­duced into liv­ing be­yond her means, I’d prob­a­bly have enough money to pay off your debt. Ap­prox­i­mately 1 in 20 adults in the U.S. are com­pul­sive shop­pers, and the in­ter­net has only ex­ac­er­bated the prob­lem.

Shop­ping ad­dic­tion shares many traits with drug and al­co­hol ad­dic­tion. For com­pul­sive shop­pers, the brain’s re­ward cen­ter is stim­u­lated when mak­ing a pur­chase, pro­duc­ing a eu­phoric feel­ing. This high is short-lived, though, and their mood plum­mets im­me­di­ately af­ter­ward.

Take your max­ing out as a bot­tom­ing out and the be­gin­ning of re­cov­ery. Re­turn any­thing that still has tags on. Can­cel all of your credit cards ex­cept one, to be used for emer­gen­cies only. (Wrap it in layers of duct tape so you have to think be­fore us­ing it, if that’s what it takes.) And ab­so­lutely no more of that shop-now, pay-later busi­ness.

Con­tact the non­profit Na­tional Foun­da­tion for Credit Coun­sel­ing (800-3882227) for re­sources.

My hus­band and I have been to­gether for 25 years. I have a son from a pre­vi­ous mar­riage, whom my hus­band has raised as his own. My son was 3 when we started dat­ing, and his fa­ther was long gone; to this day, his fa­ther has not com­mu­ni­cated with him. My son has al­ways had a good re­la­tion­ship with his pa­ter­nal grand­mother and wants to carry on the fam­ily name.

Re­cently, our dog died, and I have been hurt by com­ments that were made to me. Three peo­ple, in­clud­ing a close friend and one of my hus­band’s fam­ily mem­bers, re­marked that the dog’s dy­ing had to be par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult for my hus­band be­cause he has no chil­dren and the dog was his child. I was quite up­set by these re­marks. Just be­cause my hus­band is not my son’s bi­o­log­i­cal fa­ther does not mean he isn’t a fa­ther to him. And that’s not to men­tion the fact that the loss of the dog was equally dif­fi­cult for all of us.

I would ask you to re­mind your read­ers that not all fam­i­lies are tra­di­tional these days and that peo­ple should think about what they are say­ing be­fore they say it. To keep peace, I ig­nored these re­marks, but quite frankly, it was not easy. — Up­set Mom

Some­times the rude­ness of peo­ple leaves me dumb­founded. I can’t fathom why your hus­band’s friends and fam­ily would say such a thing. I can only hope that your son didn’t have to hear it. Let’s all take this as a re­minder to open our mouths less and our hearts more. Also, I’m so sorry about your dog, and I wish you, your son and your hus­band all the best.

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