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Recent Letter to the ElderWisdomCircle™

SELF-IMPROVEMENT: Help - My Spending Is Out of Control
Letter #: 417780
Category: Self-Improvement

Original Letter

Hi, I'm Shelly. I'm a 19 yearold *child* with a tremendous spending problem! My monthly allowance is 3000$, and it rarely ever lasts me till the end of the month! Bare in mind that I live at home and don't have to worry about food, rent, etc.. I sometimes will blow through my allowance in a day, hell, even an hour at a good boutique. My parents and I have an express rule where if I blow through my allowance and I need the money I could get half of my next month's allowance. I have found a loophole though. I request half of next month's allowance every month! So technically, I get 4500$ A month, but that's beside the point. I knew I had a problem when I returned from a Gucci store and found no space in my closet (which is filled with very expensive clothes that I never wear) I know I have a problem. I don't even buy stuff that I really need. I just buy stuff! Please send any advice my way.

Elder Response

This is a complicated issue that you call a problem. First, we must distinguish a need versus a want. Secondly, we have to distinguish between the ability to do something, versus the absolute choice to do, or refrain from doing that thing.

When you say that that you purchase clothes that you “never wear”, you are obviously recognizing that there is no need for the Gucci purchase, but there was a “want” emotion strong enough to turn it into  “a need”. What I believe we are dealing with is for you to recognize that the clothing was a symbol, but the real need was to satisfy some emotional experience.

Shelly, only you know what in your life is missing in such a way that can be satisfied by that strong emotional feeling of making the purchase. If you can’t figure that out, perhaps a therapist can help sort out the problem. I believe we never take action, like buying anything, from our logical minds. We take action only when some emotional need is triggered and satisfied. I think many emotions can trigger such a response. It could be a feeling that you deserve it, or a feeling of emptiness that needs to be fulfilled, or a feeling of joy in the acquisition, or many other emotions that can be explored. I am not a therapist, so I am not able to sort through all of the possibilities.

The $4,500 per month does give you the ability to make many purchases, but you must recognize that you have choices in your behavior as to the path you take in each moment. Yes, you can go to the Dollar Store and get 4,500 items in a given day. Since you never got the emotional “hit” by doing that, you have chosen not to go that route. You have the same ability to choose a course of action that will support you, rather than to keep up the pattern that you recognize as a problem. This is true even in a high-end Fashion Store.

All this is saying that you are not a child, and have the ability to take charge of your life. You are not a victim of your spending excesses. Getting assistance from a therapist will help you past the roadblock that you call a tremendous spending problem. Shelly, you can do it. Now is the time before your folks can’t or won’t rescue you financially. I feel that your future depends upon getting a handle on this quickly.

Good luck.  




Best Regards,



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