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Elizabeth Hartney, PhD

Christmas Shopping When You're a Shopaholic

By December 22, 2012

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Image (c) Sanja Gjenero

Image (c) Sanja Gjenero

December is a difficult time for anyone with a shopping addiction. There is more pressure to shop than at any other time of year, and advertisers and retailers are well aquainted with the research showing exactly what pushes your buttons. Along with that is the pressure to show everyone you care about just how much, the best way you know how -- buying them things.

So how is a shopaholic supposed to cope with the annual Christmas shopping demands? Here are a few tips:

Buy gift certificates. If possible, avoid the process of shopping completely by purchasing gift certificates for a modest amount, say, $10 per person. Then include them with a Christmas card.

But if that isn't an option...

Plan ahead. Make a list of everyone you must buy for, limiting it to perhaps immediate family and a few close friends and their children. Then decide in advance what to buy them, setting a limit of, say, $10 per person. If you have significant debts, it is important not to splurge. If your family and friends know about your problem, they will understand.

Shop for one thing at a time. Don't try to do all your Christmas shopping at once. This will help keep you focused and make it less likely you will overshop.

Shop at quiet times. If you can make it to the shops in your lunch break, it will be easier to focus on what you want than at the weekend, when you can easily get caught up in the crowds.

Avoid impulse purchases. These are a major problem for people with shopping addiction, so it will take a lot of will power to resist. But avoid buying either a gift or something for yourself in the spur of the moment. Stick to the one item on your list, and when you have bought it, leave.

Keep your cards and paper simple. Extravagent wrappings may tempt you, but remember, it's just paper and it will be in the recycling in a couple of weeks.

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