BOUGHT OUT AND $PENT, Recovery from Compulsive Shopping and Spending
By Terrence Daryl Shulman

BOUGHT OUT AND $PENT, Recovery from Compulsive Shopping and Spending

Mr. Shulman’s third book, Bought Out and $pent! (2008) was one of the early books on compulsive shopping and spending. It’s a book aimed at a wide audience and explores our relationship to money, things, credit cards, and saving (or lack thereof). It sounds the alarm about how insidious and powerful our consumer culture is becoming—especially with the ever-increasing ubiquity of advertising, technology, and easy credit and 24/7 access to purchasing with the tap of a finger (and, now, with a brief vocal request to Siri, Echo or Alexa!). Filled with provocative theories and stories of some of the clients Mr. Shulman has treated, you are bound to learn something new and valuable about yourself and, perhaps, even your loved ones.

This book about compulsive spending is divided into four parts:

  • Part One highlights stories of those I've worked with who have been compulsive shoppers or spenders: a human face on this problem.
  • Part Two provides a guide to various reasons why people overshop or overspend and other monetary dysfunctions as well as important data, statistics, and the challenges and issues that arise.
  • Part Three includes exercises to help people stop Overshopping and Overspending moving toward greater peace and wholeness in recovery.
  • Part Four focuses on other related topics.

Some quotes from the inside cover:

"My fear and cry for help led me to Mr. Shulman. After a year of counseling I continue to grow and become the person I wanted to be all along. He helped me understand I'm not a bad person, I just made bad decisions. He opened the doors so I could forgive myself and heal."—Suzie, Georgia


"Thanks to Terry I was able to get a handle on my life. It was not easy. I had to revisit 50 years of my life: how-when-where-why? The light finally came on. I needed to like myself, take care of myself, and love myself. Now I do and everything has changed! I used to take care of everyone else first. I still share and care but I include myself now. When leaving a store now. I can say I had a successful day and mean it."—S.K., Ontario, Canada


"My work with Terry has been very enlightening! He guided me on a path of self-discovery and growth and offered the support I needed. Through the 10 sessions, I learned many new skills for living with this addiction, had the chance to try them out and then got to share my experiences in my next session. I felt that together we built a solid base for my recovery and I highly recommend Mr. Shulman's counseling."—T.C., Chicago


"My willingness to change and Mr. Shulman's program have truly changed me. If I had known about this program earlier, I could have avoided so much pain, trouble and legal issues." —A.C., New Orleans



Table of Contents

Acknowledgments...............................x
About the Author............................xii
Preface: Are You A Shopaholic?.............xiii 
Introduction...............................xvii

PART ONE
A Human Face on Compulsive Shopping and Spending

Brad's Story..................................1
Dollie's Story...............................11
Robert's Story...............................16 
Bobbie's Story...............................24
Lynne's Story................................31
Lucy's Story.................................38
Jeremy's Story...............................46
Helena's Story...............................50
Rose's Story.................................57
Mike and Susie's Story.......................67
Joyce's Story................................78

PART TWO  
The Bigger Picture

The Top Ten Reasons People Overshop or
Overspend....................................83
Sub-Categories of Shopaholics................85
Natasha Kendall, PhD Interview...............87
Pamela Landy, JD, CFP Interview..............98
Excerpts of Recent Newspaper Articles of
Interest....................................110
Tying It All Together.......................115

PART THREE
Exercises for Recovering Shopaholics & Spendaholics

Questions for Self-Exploration..............117
Budgeting 101...............................124
A New Budget................................125
My List of Unfair Things....................126
My Lucky Gratitude List.....................128

My Dream Job................................130
Journaling/Practice Journal Page............131
A Visit to a Homeless Shelter/Soup Kitchen..132
Gray Area Behaviors.........................133
Better Ways to Get Freebies & Good Deals....137
Common Triggers & Coping Skills.............138
Common Warning Signs & Coping Skills........141
How My Addiction Served Me..................144
Honesty is Its Own Reward...................148
Losing Your Edge or Gaining Your Edge.......149
Be Assertive! ..............................150
The Importance of Humor.....................151
Someone to Talk To..........................153
What to Do With Your Useless Purchases......154
The Dangers of Transferring Addictions......155
Forgiving Ourselves.........................157
The 12 Steps of Debtors Anonymous...........158 
Using the 12 Steps..........................160
The Serenity Prayer.........................171

PART FOUR
Related Topics

Conducting an Intervention..................173
The Family Needs Help, Too..................182
Help for Those Afraid of Shopping or
Spending....................................183
Starting a Self-Help Group..................184
Epilogue: Where Do We Go From Here?.........185
Resources...................................186
Books/DVDs..................................188

From the Preface

We all have money issues. I know I do. We’re usually feeling like we want or need more of it. We’re trying to earn more, spend less, save or invest more; yet, we also want more, need more, feel we deserve more, and dread the feeling of losing or just maintaining our current lifestyle.

I believe something else is happening. A dangerous mindset has taken root: spend now and worry later—or, better yet, don’t worry at all! Welcome to the world of addiction: the world of more, more, more. It’s a world of imbalance, of denial, and of insanity. It’s more than plain greed.

You’ve probably noticed a growing trend over the last decade or so. From Suze Orman to Dave Ramsey to Oprah’s “Debt Diet” to A&E TV’s “Big Spender” to books, articles, television and radio shows: calls near and far are sounding the alarm about our individual and collective problems with debt and spending.

Everywhere we look and listen: there are warning signs that something is out of balance: a looming recession, wild stock market swings, a housing market bust with record foreclosures, consumer credit card debt at an all time high! We’ve been told recently that we’re not in a recession but “a slow down.”

We were given easy credit, no money down, and promised “The American Dream.” Look what’s happening?

As Americans, we work longer hours, take less vacation time, have more health issues such as lack of sleep, depression, anxiety, and obesity, and report less overall satisfaction with life. As we continue to emulate and chase the lifestyles of the “rich and famous,” we pay a devastating toll being--individually and collectively.

Yet, many of us continue to spend like there’s no tomorrow. And, for many, there may not be a tomorrow. Our attitudes and culture of consumerism have reached a breaking point over the last few decades.

As with many issues, we seem to have a split personality—again, individually and collectively. On the one hand, we have a trend toward hyper-consumerism best illustrated by the blossoming of magazines and TV shows pushing the lure of haute couture and mocking—tongue-in-cheek—the excesses of shopping and spending—from “Sex in The City” to the chick-lit “Confessions of a Shopaholic” novellas which will be released as a major motion picture this year.

On the other hand, we have a growing movement saying slow down—from Suze Orman to, less stylistically, the movies “What Would Jesus Buy,” “Maxxed Out,” and the underground films “Money as Debt,” Freedom to Fascism,” and “Zeitgeist.”

In 2006, a landmark Stanford University study concluded that something else may better describe the phenomenon that is growing among millions of people. It is called” compulsive buying disorder.” While still controversial—there’s a tendency to call it “poor money management”—the hope is that it opens a new window towards prevention and treatment of persons whose buying and spending may not be helpable through conventional approaches such as just cutting up credit cards or trying to follow a financial advisor’s counsel.

Consider the following statistics:

  • 17 Million Americans (roughly 6% of the population) are compulsive buyers (Stanford University Study, 2006)
  • Nearly half of all compulsive buyers are men (Stanford University Study, 2006)
  • Arguments over money and spending are the primary reason for couples’ conflict or divorce (Psychology Today)
  • The average credit card debt per American citizen is nearly $10,000—mostly from unnecessary purchases (Time and Money magazines)

If you’re reading this book, either you or someone you know has may have serious problems with shopping or spending. There are different ways to determine if there’s really a problem. If you think there’s a problem, usually there is. If others think you have a problem, usually there is. Ultimately, each one of us has to decide this for him/herself.

Sometimes there may be a problem with debt but not so much because of shopping—one may not shop regularly but may spend too much money on occasional larger purchases such as a home, a car, a vacation; or, one may spend too much on dining out, concerts, the theatre, etc. Likewise, one may have a compulsive shopping or spending problem but not be in debt—there may be other consequences like loss of time or interest in relationships, avoidance of emotions or of obligations.

Some common reasons why people overshop or overspend include the following:

  • Emotional deprivation in childhood
  • Inability to tolerate negative feelings, pain, loneliness, depression, fear, or anger
  • Need to fill an inner void – empty and longing inside
  • Excitement or thrill-seeking
  • Approval seeking
  • Perfectionism
  • Need to gain control
  • Manic episodes, ADHD, or impulsivity

Compulsive shoppers—often referred to as “shopaholics” can sometimes be described in categories such as these:

  • Trophy shoppers
  • Image shoppers
  • Bargain shoppers
  • Codependent shoppers  
  • Bulimic shoppers
  • Collector shoppers
  • Compulsive shoppers

This book isn’t a book about finances from the viewpoint of how to make more money or how to save more money. It’s more about our emotional and psychological relationship to money and to things. It’s about going deeper—to the roots.

My interest in this subject is also personal.

I began to see how our relationship to money and to things is a huge source of wounding and pain in my clients—and most people in general. Therefore, creating a new relationship with money and things can, equally, bring healing and peace.

Since 2004, I began counseling compulsive shoppers and spenders in addition to my primary work with people who compulsively steal. Often, both behaviors—compulsive theft and spending—are present either at the same time or at different stages.

Remember the old saying: “you can’t solve most issues with money or things.” Most of us have experienced this lesson already. We see how “the rich and famous” still have problems—and that’s just the ones we hear about. We’ve heard the stories of lottery winners who blow their money all too quickly, fall into depression or addictions, or who end up saying they wish they’d never won. Yet, we still buy into the fantasy that more money or more things will make us happy.

I hope this book is another offering among the many out there which helps us look at, understand better, and make the necessary changes in our lives so we may live our best lives possible.

Terrence Daryl Shulman,
Southfield, Michigan, March 2008

Back to top of the Preface

From the Introduction

If you’re reading this book, either you or someone you know may have serious problems with shopping or spending. There are different ways to determine if there’s really a problem. If you think there’s a problem, usually there is. If others think you have a problem, there usually is. Ultimately, each one of us has to decide for him or herself.

Take the following quizzes and take an honest accounting…

20 QUESTIONS
Shulman CenterAssessment for Compulsive Shopping/Spending

  1. Have you ever lost time from work or school due to shopping/spending?  
  2. Have shopping/spending ever created problems in your relationships?  
  3. Have shopping/spending ever affected your reputation or people’s opinion of you?   
  4. Have you ever felt guilt, shame, or remorse after shopping/spending?   
  5. Did you ever shoplift or steal from work to get money to pay debts or to solve money issues?  
  6. Did shopping/spending ever cause a decrease in your ambition or efficiency?  
  7. Did you ever experience a “high” or “rush” of excitement when you shop or spend?   
  8. Have you ever shopped/spent to escape worries?        
  9. Has shopping/spending caused you to have difficulty eating or sleeping?  
  10. Do arguments, disappointments or frustrations create an urge to shop or spend?  
  11. Have you noticed you began shopping or spending more frequently over time?  
  12. Have you ever considered self-destruction or suicide as a result of your shopping/spending?   
  13. Upon stopping over shopping or overspending did you continue to be tempted/preoccupied by it?  
  14. Have you kept your shopping/spending a secret from most of those you are close to?   
  15. Have you told yourself “this is my last time” and still over shopped or overspent again?  
  16. Have you continued to shop or spend despite having been had legal issues such as bankruptcy or divorce?  
  17. Do you often feel angry or feel a need for control?    
  18. Do you often have feelings of life being unfair? 
  19. Do you have persistent feelings of entitlement to get buy what you want?   
  20. Do you have trouble speaking up for yourself, asking for help, or saying “no”?    

 

What was your score/How many times did you answer Yes? _______

Most compulsive shoppers/spenders will answer yes to at least seven (7) of these questions

This questionnaire is adapted from the Gamblers Anonymous 20 Questions.

Debtors Anonymous & professional counseling should be recommend for compulsive shoppers/spenders.

 

15 Questions of Debtors Anonymous

  1. Are your debts making your home life unhappy? 
  2. Does the pressure of your debts distract you from your daily work? 
  3. Are your debts affecting your reputation? 
  4. Do your debts cause you to think less of yourself? 
  5. Have you ever given false information in order to obtain credit? 
  6. Have you ever made unrealistic promises to your creditors? 
  7. Does the pressure of your debts make you careless of the welfare of your family? 
  8. Do you ever fear that your employer, family or friends will learn the extent of your total indebtedness? 
  9. When faced with a difficult financial situation, does the prospect of borrowing give you an inordinate feeling of relief? 
  10. Does the pressure of your debts cause you to have difficulty sleeping? 
  11. Has the pressure of your debts ever caused you to consider getting drunk? 
  12. Have you ever borrowed money without giving adequate consideration to the rate of interest you are required to pay? 
  13. Do you usually expect a negative response when you are subject to a credit investigation? 
  14. Have you ever developed a strict regimen for paying off your debts, only to break it under pressure? 
  15. Do you justify your debts by telling yourself that you are superior to the "other" people, and when you get your "break" you'll be out of debt overnight? 

What was your score/How many times did you answer Yes? _______

If you answered yes to eight or more of these questions, the chances are that you have a problem with compulsive debt, or are well on your way to having one. If this is the case, today can be a turning point in your life.

Back to top of the Introduction


Copyright © 2011 by Terrence Daryl Shulman All rights reserved. No part of this book shall be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, magnetic, photographic - including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without prior written permission of the publisher. No patent liability is assumed with respect to the use of the information contained herein. Although every precaution has been taken in the preparation of this book, the publisher and author assume no responsibility for errors or omissions. Neither is any liability assumed for damages resulting from the use of the information contained herein. Published by: InfinityPublishing.com • 519 West Lancaster Avenue • Haverford, PA 19041-1413

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