Over shopping = over spending

JaLynn Hardy's view

Shopaholism: addiction that can ruin lives

Stress, seasons and new products are three things that can cause students to go out and spend money. However, many students purchase with credit cards, which could lead to debt problems.

Credit: Andrew popik

You’ve had a tough week. You got yelled at on the job, you turned your paper in late and your mom won’t stop nagging you about your boyfriend or girlfriend. Stress relief is just a car ride away.

You say, “I’ll go up to the mall. I could use a new look. After all, I deserve this after the rotten week I’ve had.” So you call your credit card company or check the Web site to see how much is left of your credit limit.

As you get into the mall, it feels good to see all of the new merchandise hanging in the windows. You stop at your favorite store and take a look around. You don’t see the purse you wanted, but you do see this wonderful dress.

“It’s the latest. We just got that in,” says the sales woman. You try it on, and it fits magnificently. Then, she proceeds to show you the whole look. “This bracelet would go excellently with that,” she says.

What about shoes? You have to have new shoes. The 30 plus pairs you have at home just won’t do.

Next thing you know, you’re going to hell in a handbag. “That’ll be $350,” the cashier says. Sure no problem, you think, as you hand over your credit card. You’ll pay it off next month with your school loan refund check. It will be your little secret.

If this scenario sounds even close to you, please listen when I say, “DON’T DO IT.” Shopaholism is an addictive behavior that can ruin your life.

I was once in so much debt with my credit cards, you would have thought I had bought a car. Debt is no way to start out your financially independent life. Being a student usually means doing without a luxurious lifestyle. That’s why buy now, pay later is so appealing. Trust me, you will pay later.

Now if I don’t have the cash, I don’t buy it. It’s a wonderful feeling not to have credit card companies chasing me down or getting credit card statements in the mail that I hope will go away.

To demonstrate how much money they make from finance charges, I found a credit calculator on the Web at Bankrate.com. If you have a $1,000 balance set at 22 percent annual percentage rate, and you pay it off at $35 dollars a month, what do you get? It will take three and half years to pay it off, and the interest you’ll pay is $400.

You’ll have paid $400 dollars for borrowing $1,000. Are those little pink shoes that were $40 worth $60 now?

That was one of the problems I had. I didn’t understand how little the minimum balance actually pays off of your debt and how much you end up spending on interest.

If you are in financial trouble, there are some ways to help yourself.

First, cut up your cards. Second, call a debt management agency. They can lower your interest rate on your credit cards. If you’re like a lot of people, you probably have more than one card. They can help you consolidate your payments into one. Best of all, they will take care of those harassing phone calls at work and at home. There are some frauds out there, so be careful.

If you’re a shopaholic, definitely get rid of your credit cards and don’t shop with one. Learn to pay for things in cash.

But mostly, realize that you’re a great person and that you don’t need all of those fancy gadgets and stellar clothes — but they are cute.

Contact fashion columnist JaLynn Hardy at [email protected].