I Have a Shopping Addiction and Feel Like an Idiot for Being So Irresponsible. – Gloria

“Dear Steve,

Age 55 / divorced
14yrs with employer (job security ‘8’ on scale of 1–10)
55k in 401k (currently not contributing due to debt/no other savings)
Upside-down on home mortgage
(recently approved for a loan modification – 30yr fixed 4%)
10k in credit card debt (pay $250 mth in payments)
3yrs left on auto loan (14k)
Excellent credit/current on all payments

I had to take a cut in pay this year, I am stressed, losing sleep, feeling like a complete idiot for being so irresponsible – I have a shopping addiction and I’m a terrible impulse buyer when I get bored or depressed. I want my insanity to stop.

My debt isn’t over-the-top, but it’s definitely on its way to being out-of-controll. My 2010 resolution is to get-a-grip on debt!

PLAN A: Take a 24 month loan in the amount of 10k to pay CC debt from my 401k. At 7% interest, my payment would be approx. $450/mth ($225 per check).

I know this is strongly discouraged, and under NO circumstance could I use my credit cards – with no emergency fund, this plan worries me.

PLAN B: Put the cards away, continue to search for a second job and pray.

Also, at my age I need to be contributing to my 401k, I truly doubt I’ll ever be able to retire.

I look forward to hearing from you Steve, and thank you for all the help you give people like me!


Dear Gloria,

Congratulations for reaching out for help. Acceptance is a critical first step.

Your admission that you have a shopping addiction is important. I’d like to offer you my book, The Path to Happiness and Wealth, for free through the link. It has a lot of information in it about the underlying issues that lead us to shop.

The first realization is that your debt is not the problem. It is the symptom. The real issue is that you self-medicate your pain and stress with shopping because it gives you a high that numbs the pressure and stress you are suffering. The thirst for that stress reliving shopping can be literally as potent as a need for drugs.

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If I let you just head off on a promise you won’t do it again, that would not serve you well. Without treatment for the stress and probably depression you will reoffend, respend, and regret it all in a continuing downward spiral.

If you do not have a therapist or someone you can talk to about this, I beg you to find the nearest debtors anonymous meeting, and please go. You can find the local meeting here.

I also highly recommend the book below by my friend Jerrold Mundis, How to Get Out of Debt, Stay Out of Debt, and Live Prosperously.

There is also a PLAN C I think might be better for you. Even with credit card payments of $250 a month you are struggling. As part of your research I think you should click here to find a local bankruptcy attorney you like. Call and make a free appointment to go see them. I need for you to go, not with the intention of filing, but to learn what benefits bankruptcy might offer you. The more informed you are about all the options, the better off you can be.

The 401(k) loan is a non-starter. No way.

But there are some other options that might be beneficial. However, I’m not going to give you the next steps till you do two things for me and report back. First, meet with a local bankruptcy attorney. Second, meet with a therapist or commit to going and go to a local Debtors Anonymous meeting on a regular basis. Once you do those things then please come back and give me an update.


You are not alone. I'm here to help. There is no need to suffer in silence. We can get through this. Tomorrow can be better than today. Don't give up.

Do you have a question you'd like to ask me for free? Go ahead and click here.
Damon Day - Pro Debt Coach

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Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
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2 thoughts on “I Have a Shopping Addiction and Feel Like an Idiot for Being So Irresponsible. – Gloria”

  1. Steve – Thank you for your help and suggestions. Your comment about my compulsive shopping/spending disorder – being a symptom to my problem really hit home. After the first of the year I will seek out/attend some debtors anonymous meetings and get back to you. As for speaking to a bankruptcy attorney, I agree the more info I have the better, but I have to give it all I got before I’d consider filing. I can’t tell you how much it helps just having you available for open consultation and offer non-judgmental support. I’m sure I’m not the only one who truly appreciates your help and respects your opinion. Thank you so very much, more later….
    Brightest blessings for 2010

    • Gloria,

      Thank you for your kind words. I am here for you.

      Research where the nearest debtors anonymous meeting is now, they are generally held only once a week, so if you find it now you can already have a plan to go after the first of the year. You don’t need to call or schedule, just show up. You don’t even need to do anything on your first visit, a success is if you can just show up the first time.

      Please come back and let me know how it goes with the bankruptcy attorney and DA meeting.



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