Someone once said to me, "I know the woman in a relationship always gets the bad rap for spending all the money, but in my house it's different. My husband can't help buying any new (and of course ridiculously expensive) gadget he finds. What do I do?"
I know women take all the heat in this area, and it irks me as well. Some new research shows that men are just as prone to overshop as women are. When women spend too much money, they have a "problem." When men do it, we call them "collectors." In other words, men get better spin.
The first thing you need to do is figure out whether your husband has a problem. Is he a compulsive spender, as about 2 to 5 percent of the population is thought to be? Or does he simply spend too much from time to time? Compulsive shoppers are a lot like alcoholics. They get excited in anticipation of their next purchase. They get a little high when they're making it. And they feel a huge letdown when it's over. Compulsive shoppers also put their own or their family's future at risk by racking up bills they often cannot pay. If your spouse is a compulsive shopper, he needs professional help.
If he's simply overshopping, he needs your help. Offer to be his shopping buddy, which may help curtail his urge to splurge. And help him figure out ways to avoid falling into that new-tech trap by getting off the e-mail or mailing lists that are tempting him or by finding a new hobby to occupy his free time.
Now, if you think your husband's spending is to blame for the state of your finances, but you're not sure, it's time you started on Oprah's Debt Diet.
Published on July 15, 2003