Facing a Financial Hangover in the New Year

Shopping and spending money, unfortunately, has become the defining feature of a “successful” holiday. The message we’ve been given is that unless the tree is surrounded by gifts, the holidays are unsatisfactory and incomplete. For some people, this message tells them their value as human beings depends on what they give and what they receive. This is an unhealthy and destructive message and one that causes many people to rack up unmanageable debt.

Shopping and spending money, unfortunately, has become the defining feature of a “successful” holiday. The message we’ve been given is that unless the tree is surrounded by gifts, the holidays are unsatisfactory and incomplete. For some people, this message tells them their value as human beings depends on what they give and what they receive. This is an unhealthy and destructive message and one that causes many people to rack up unmanageable debt.

If you find yourself living through your credit cards by spending beyond your means, you might suffer from a condition known as compulsive over-spending. 


Compulsive over-spending is characterized by spending money to feel better about ourselves and to gain a sense of place in the world. We think that designer handbag, hot new jeans or celebrity perfume will give us status and value in the world. And while these purchases do make us feel great in the short run, in the long run, they leave us with the guilt, shame, anxiety and depression of a financial hangover.

If you can relate to this scenario, you’re not alone. The average American family has around $10,000 in credit card debt hanging over their head. Through it, they’ve placed themselves at the mercy of their creditors by acquiring a closet and house full of depreciating items they can’t afford.

It’s an unfortunate situation, but one you have the power to change. The first step, of course, is recognizing you have a problem. To start, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you love to shop?
  • Do you feel you are what you wear?
  • Are you envious of other people’s possessions (meaning you want what they have)?
  • Are you ever not completely honest about the amount of money you spend?
  • Do you carry an unpaid balance on your credit cards that exceeds three months of your net income?
  • Do you feel shopping is a “sport” (meaning that the hunt gives you a rush)?
  • Is living on your cash flow impossible?

If you answered yes to at least three of these questions, you may be a compulsive over-spender. But,  you can take concrete steps to have an emotionally and financially healthier 2012. 

To do this, create a financial journal that will enable you to get a perspective on your spending. In this journal keep track of the following:

  • Your monthly expenditures. Be very specific and inclusive. Yes, your barista coffee must be included.
  • Track the amount of time you spend shopping or “just looking’ online and in stores.
  • Pause before you buy. Before you pull out the credit card, write about why you need the good or service in your journal and wait 24 hours before you buy it.
  • Declare shopping-free days. Saturday is the best one to make purchase-free. 

The ultimate goal here is to become more conscious of your shopping patterns and to understand how and why you spend money. Mental and emotional health is defined by freedom. Central to this is a freedom from financial enslavement to others. Make financial freedom, emotional and physical health your top priorities in 2012, and you’ll never have to face a new year with a financial hangover again. 

4 Steps to Shedding Your Pandemic Pounds

Forgive yourself, and start walking toward a healthier you.

For those of you who have put on the Pandemic Pounds or added several new COVID Curves, you are not alone. Alarmingly, the American Psychological Association has recently published that almost half of all adults in their survey now have a larger physique. In fact, 42% of people reported gaining roughly 15 pounds (the average published was surprisingly 29 pounds but that included outliers) over the past year. Interestingly, 20% of adults in this survey lost about 12 pounds (I am surely not in this group). Clearly, there is a relationship between stress and weight change. In addition, one in four adults disclosed an increase in alcohol consumption, and 67% of participants distressingly revealed that they have new sleeping patterns.

This past year has brought about what has been called the 'new normal.' Social isolation and inactivity due to quarantining and remote working have sadly contributed to the decline in many people's mental and physical health, as demonstrated by the widespread changes in people's weight, alcohol consumption, and sleeping patterns. Gym closures, frequent ordering of unhealthy takeout, and increased time at home cooking and devouring comfort foods have had a perceptible impact. In addition, many people have delayed routine medical care and screening tests over fear of contracting Covid-19 during these visits. Unfortunately, the 'new normal' has now placed too many people at risk for serious health consequences, including heart attacks and strokes.

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