The title above does not refer to me but to a movie concerning a shopaholic named Rebecca Bloomwood. I also read the novel entitled “The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic” by Sophie Kinsella. Both the movie and novel portray the fun and hilarious story of Rebecca Bloomwood who is a journalist specializing in giving advice on how to manage money.
However, Rebecca has a weakness for retail therapy aka shopping. She cannot resist indulging herself and giving a lot of excuses just to go shopping. Needless to say, she continues to dig herself deeper into the debt-hole until the creditors were even calling her at the workplace.
Inspired by this story, this is another foray into the debt world. Why do some people can’t seem to help themselves but get into debt? In the case of Rebecca Bloomwood, she just loves the thrill of shopping and owning new things. Many of us have similar experiences, getting a nice buzz or feeling excited after getting something new and nice.
A person may also feel entitled to have the same things as his friends or neighbors irrespective of whether he can really afford to or not. This may be compounded if the person feels he has to uphold his self-image by acquiring expensive material things.
Are you a generous person? A person who is too generous with himself and others can also be a bad thing. For example, overspending on entertainment, on presents or during the holiday seasons will negatively affect a person’s financial situation. So, now it is obvious that getting into debt can happen easily and anyone can do it without training. Doing the opposite however like getting out of debt, building wealth and becoming financially secure require more hard work. It also requires personal commitment and 100 percent personal responsibility.
What can Rebecca Bloomwood do to rectify her dire financial situation? The following actions would all help her (and any shopaholics) to get her financial situation in order.
• Increase her income
• Reduce her expenses, both fixed and variable
• Increase her savings
• Increase her investments and get a good return on them
• Organize her debts (e.g. refinance, consolidate) to optimize her debt payments
• Pay down the most expensive debt first and move on to the next one
• Lead a frugal lifestyle
• Set short, mid and long term financial goals
So, if you think your situation is similar to Rebecca Bloomwood, make a commitment now to change your situation. The changes will not happen overnight but over a period of time. It is like dieting and losing weight. You have to abstain and practice delayed gratification to see changes.
Jacquelyn is the co-author of the books “Teaching Your Kids About Money” and “Top 93 Personal Finance FAQs in Malaysia” with KC Lau. Jacquelyn is the pseudonym used by Amy Sipagal.