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Spenders Anonymous - Abstinence in Spending

A 12-Step Fellowship

Are you a spender?
List of
Meeting Kit
Step Humor
Take what you like and leave the rest.

  • Go to a meeting each week.

  • Get a sponsor and share feelings about spending.

  • When you must shop, as all of us do, go with a list. Buy only what is on the list. It is better to make a second trip to the store with a new list than to buy on impulse. This device gives you a chance to carefully consider purchases and how much to spend on the item(s) – away from the store and away from the impulse buying. Phone the store ahead of time to be certain they have the item you want. This saves you from having to "shop around".

  • Let friends and family do your shopping for you.

  • There are no bargains for the compulsive spender. Buy things at a convenient store. Don't shop the ads or sales. Sometimes it is less costly in the long run to pay full price because you are buying only what you really need as opposed to the endless "bargains" and "good deals" you used to bring home.

  • Save money by buying fewer things – to do with less. Realize that modern merchandising methods are designed to get you to buy things that you don't really need, especially on impulse.

  • Remember how you used to buy things. Make it hard or impossible to repeat the behavior. Stay away from your old favorite stores. Find different places to buy the things you need. Check out proposed purchases with someone else and take a trusted friend with you when shopping if possible.

  • Throw away mail-order catalogs. Since you are not going to buy anything from a catalog, don't waste any time looking through them.

  • Try to keep your thinking away from "wanting something". Don't generate the need within yourself. When you really do need something, the need will be apparent, and it will be peaceful to acquire it.

  • Make your necessary shopping a chore—something no more exciting than mailing a letter.

  • Get rid of the stuff that you have bought and have stored around the house. Sometimes, possessing the stuff is just as bad as buying it. Make getting rid of your stuff your NUMBER ONE priority!! When you discover how hard it is to get rid of your stuff, you will see how absolutely necessary this step is.

  • Sales and ads are designed to get you to buy on the store's terms. Set up conditions so that you buy on your own terms.

  • Be vigilant. Pray for God's wisdom and discernment on the way to the store and while you are choosing items and before taking them to the cashier. Keep in mind the powerlessness and insanity, as well as God's power, strength and peacefulness. Listen to the gut—not the head.

  • Write down and verbalize to someone exactly what you are going to purchase. Don't go shopping while tired or feeling extremely high or low. Ask---Do I really need it?

  • Shop in smaller, quieter shops where there are fewer choices, activities, people, noise and lights so you don't get "hyped".

  • Go shopping 15-20 minutes before the store closes to limit time spent shopping.

  • Delay any purchase that doesn't feel right.

  • Anything you obsess about is probably not OK.

  • You will never be hurt by anything you don't buy.

  • Ask the question: What's the worse thing that could happen if I didn't buy_________?

  • Keep giving things away.

  • Keep asking for what you need—physically, emotionally and spiritually.

  • Keep food on your shelves, but not a lot of food.

  • Feel the comfort of not allowing yourself to get so tight that you feel afraid of where you will get money for necessities. (balance)

  • Have goals. (savings)

  • Make sure your social needs are met.

  • Limit time in stores looking for a particular item.

  • Don't spend money you don't have.

  • Open and look at all your mail everyday.

  • Do banking, balance checkbook and pay bills weekly.

  • Deduct checks as soon as you write them.

  • Make a list of what each paycheck needs to go for and allow some money (a moderate amount) for fun.

  • Budget to pay most bills a week before they are due, so you will have a cushion if you get in a jam.

  • Keep money in envelopes.

  • If you borrow or take from one envelope (budget), it must be from a similar category (i.e. eating out and entertainment).

  • If you are having trouble with your spending, leave money at home except for a quarter.

  • If in doubt, don't.

  • No credit cards.

  • Develop an "attitude of gratitude" for what you have.

  • Write down what and where you spend. (develop awareness)

  • Feel your feelings and emotions.

  • Journal.

  • Go for a walk.

  • When shopping, ask yourself: Do I really want this? Do I really need it? Will I really use this or will it just sit there? Do I already have one like it at home? Is it worth the price—physically, emotionally and spiritually)? If at the end of this, you still want the item, try to put a small space between the wanting and the buying. This can help to stay abstinent at times.

  • Use the tools of the program: Abstinence, Sponsorship, Meetings, Phone Calls, Anonymity, Reading and Writing, Service, Humor, Slogans, Exercise and Prayer/Meditation.

  • No checking account.

  • Carry $200 in traveler's cheques for emergency road costs.

  • Keep change all in one place in your house and put billfold money there except then using it.

  • Pray before entering the store to stay centered.

  • Don't read the ads or look at catalogs.

  • Decide whether you are buying the bargain or the item.

  • Decide whether it's a want or a need.

  • Write out all of the bills before you decide what you can spend for the week.

  • If it's a want, look through your closet or drawer and see what you have before going shopping.

  • If you can't call before you shop, call after and talk out any guilt or shame or whatever you are feeling so you don't continue.

  • Spend your own cash for clothes wants and not money out of the household money.

  • Don't tell people what a "good deal" you got.

  • Don't ask how much something costs.

  • Steer conversations about money or "good deals" to something else.

  • Be realistic about your needs – keep a budget that allows for entertainment, personal needs, etc…

  • Don't keep secrets. Tell the truth about what you pay for things.

  • Let yourself know that you can have things, but that you need to choose which ones you can have.

  • Deal with your shame around money.

  • Try to address your fears about being deprived and about spending.

  • Give yourself credit for progress.

  • Take life and the program "one day at a time".

  • Work the steps of the program.

  • Do not accept yourself and your finances as not perfect, but instead, be able to grow and learn by your abstinence and mistakes and from hearing others share at meetings.

  • Use the affirmation: "I have everything I need." or "I am OK the way I am."