When Bridget decided to get her shopping and spending under control she started with a tearful declaration to her boyfriend. "I told him that I was a problem spender and asked him to help me get it under control." Together they decided that she wouldn't buy anything at all except for groceries. Four weeks later she clicked on an email link for a three-hour blowout sale and impulsively purchased a pair of shoes. This started a spending binge that resulted in even greater debt than what she had when she started her campaign.
Despite her best intentions, Bridget made several decisions that nearly guaranteed she'd stumble at some point.
1. She labeled herself a "problem spender." A better method is for a person to identify with the strength and resolve they have in other parts of their lives and to label previous over-spending as a mistake they will choose not to make in the future. It's a powerful mental shift away from defensiveness and reactivity toward personal power and control.
2. She shared responsibility and control with her boyfriend. Because of this, satisfying her boyfriend became the goal, rather than altering her spending. We see this in dieters who sneak treats when their spouses aren't looking. A better method is to state your intentions and ask that supporters simply respect your new boundaries - the kinds of things you need to do to avoid spending like skipping coffee runs or avoiding malls.