Hope for a Spendaholic - The Dollar Stretcher
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Hope for a Spendaholic

I have been married 40 years, I am 59 and am a spendaholic. I have been following Dave Ramsey's plan and trying to get my credit cards paid off. We have no money and no retirement. Is there any hope for us?


Yes, there is hope for B. It might take awhile and may not be easy. But just because she didn't overcome her spendaholic tendencies in the past doesn't mean that it cannot be done.

Let's tackle the problem on two levels. First, the things that she can do to get the problem under control today. Second, the longer-range things that she can do to uproot the source of the problem.

B. says that she's using the Dave Ramsey plan for paying off her credit cards. Good for her. Dave's plan is very workable. It's one of two common plans for paying off debt that are very similar.

Both pay the minimum on all accounts. One pays off the smallest balance first and pays accounts off from smallest to largest. The idea is that you get re-motivated every time you close an account.

The other, ranks them in terms of interest rates. They pay off the highest rate first and works down from the highest interest rate to the lowest. This is the fastest way to pay off a group of accounts. But, you'll need to keep yourself motivated.

Depending on how much debt she has, it may take B. awhile to pay down all the accounts. She'll need some patience and determination. It took awhile to accumulate the debt. It will take awhile to pay it off.

At the same time that B. is reducing the debt level, it's important that she stop her spending. She can't get out of debt if she keeps spending. So that has to stop now.

Based on past experience, her willpower and good intentions cannot be trusted 100% of the time. So until B. can control her spending urges, she'll need to use some physical means to assist her will power.

That means recongizing where she's vulnerable. Is she more likely to be spending cash? Using credit cards? Ordering over the internet? Or by phone?

Whatever the vulnerability, B. will need to devise a plan to protect her when willpower is not enough. That may mean limiting the amount of cash she carries. Or freezing her credit cards in a block of ice so she has to wait before charging. Blocking certain internet sites or TV shopping channels.

Once B. has made it hard to succumb to her spendaholic urges, then it's time to try to find what's causing her to spend. I'm no psychologist. But I have worked with many people and their finances. Money is generally not the root of the problem. It's most likely to be a symptom of something else. Often people spend in an attempt to make some emotional hurt feel better.

B. will want to look for a pattern to her spending. Is there a particular emotion that she's feeling when the urge to shop is strong? Knowing what emotion goes along with her spending will allow B. to watch for the emotion and when it surfaces she can guard against spending. A little like an early warning system.

She might also want to seek outside help. Many places have Debtor's Anonymous  meetings.

Or B. could find professional psychological help. Either to help her find the source of her spending or to deal with the source once it's found.

There's no reason for B. to give up hope. She can make it almost physically impossible to spend. That alone will solve most of the problem. And if B. is able to identify the emotional root and deal with those issues then she can be free of her spendaholism forever!


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About Gary

For more than 25 years, Gary Foreman has worked to manage money effectively. Prior to starting The Dollar Stretcher, he was a financial planner and purchasing manager. While helping clients manage their hard earned money as a financial planner, he applied commonsense, time-tested techniques during the turbulent 1980’s. The experience convinced him that you didn’t need to hit the lottery to accumulate significant wealth. Following that, Gary had an opportunity to learn more about how to get the best value for a dollar spent in the corporate world. As the Purchasing Manager for a computer manufacturer, he was responsible for supervising over $10 million in annual purchases. Gary began The Dollar Stretcher website <www.TheDollarStretcher.com> and newsletters in April 1996. Over 300,000 readers benefit from the time and money saving ideas presented in The Dollar Stretcher newsletters each week. His mission is to help people "Live Better for Less". He also provides private label newsletters for companies wishing to provide money saving information for their clients and/or prospects. Gary lives in Florida along with his wife of thirty years and their two children. Much of his time is spent working with the men's ministry of his church. One of their ongoing projects is the "Holy Smoke BBQ" which sells bbq on Friday nights with the profits going to support local foster kids and orphans. When he has a free moment you’ll find him restoring a Checker station wagon nicknamed “Two Ton” or cruising in a '65 Impala SS Convertible with doo-wops playing in the background.

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Gary is a former financial planner and purchasing manager who edits The Dollar Stretcher website <www.stretcher.com> and newsletters. You can follow Gary on Twitter.com/gary_foreman
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