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Fight the addiction to shop

By Jennie Bragg, producer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- While many people have tightened their belts throughout the recession, some shoppers don't know their boundaries.

If you have a spending problem or you know someone who does, learning to cut back and reverse this unhealthy trend can be a process.

Impulsive shopping

First, recognize what kind of shopper you are.

An impulse shopper is the kind of shopper who goes to the grocery store to pick up eggs and milk and comes home with the cookies that are on display by the check-out counter. You don't need the item, but you just can't resist. The most important thing for this type of shopper to remember is to "be ready to pay for the consequences right then and there. That may dissuade you from the impulsive shopping; just doing it just for fun," suggests clinical psychologist, Jeff Gardere.

Weigh your needs versus your wants carefully before you get to the register and consider leaving your credit cards at home. "If you live on a cash basis it is a lot harder to fall into that behavior. Make a budget and track your spending each week, so you are constantly monitoring yourself," advises Jo Bittof, co-founder of actfinancially.com. And if possible, don't shop alone or with another person who has impulsive tendencies.

Compulsive shopping

Compulsive spending can be a bit trickier and a lot harder to rein in.

"Compulsive spending is almost like a self-medication. It makes you feel better when you go out there and spend. You get that high right way and then of course the crashing low comes when you have to look at your credit card bill later on," says Gardere.

First and foremost, a compulsive spender has to understand why he or she spends excessively and admit that it is a problem.

According to Bittof, compulsive shoppers "are doing what any addict does. Unfortunately, the drug of choice is spending for many people."

As with any addiction, Gardere suggests finding a support group. "Look at other people who are going through the same thing and talk to them about it."

Additionally, in order to plan for the future and clean up the past, Bittof adds, "A compulsive shopper needs financial counseling too, so that you have the complete package."

Talkback: What do you think the signs of a compulsive spender are? To top of page

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