According to creditcard.com, the following credit card statistics currently stand:
- Average credit card debt per U.S. adult, excluding zero-balance cards and store cards: $4,878
- Average debt per credit card that usually carries a balance: $8,220.
- Average debt per credit card that doesn’t usually carry a balance: $1,037.
- Americans who carried credit card debt from month to month as of March 2012: 39 percent.
- Females who carried a credit card balance as of April 2012: 60 percent.
- Women are more likely than men to carry a credit card balance, make the minimum payment on their credit cards and be charged a late fee.
- Cardholders 18 and older surveyed in February 2012 who said they paid less than the full amount but more than the required minimum balance: 32 percent.
By these averages, you could probably get a feel of where you stand with your own credit card debt. Looking at these numbers, I would have felt comfortable with my debt. I was about an average American in most fronts except of course I had a bigger balance of over $10,000. However, there came a point where I wasn’t comfortable being amongst the average. Now some of you may think that over $10k in credit card debt is not very much while others may gasp. Of course everyone will have their own opinions about finances so as noted before, I’ll let you know my perspective.
How did I recognize I had a shopping problem? There weren’t obvious signs. I never went too crazy like constantly blowing my whole paycheck in one shopping excursion. The issue happened gradually. I would follow a budgeting cycle that I thought worked:
In the cycle above, I was getting by. What made things worse was trying to control the situation by not allowing myself to go shopping for a whole month or two, then I’d have these cravings I had to fulfill so I would end up SPLURGING. The gradual increase looked something like this:
There were other factors that contributed to my rising debt. I was overly generous with gifts and getting the bill when eating out with family and friends. My living expenses made up a huge percentage of my budget, which is usually the case especially if you’re living in an expensive city like San Diego. Overall, I was living beyond my means. I was able to better control my expenses in these areas, but I still had a big issue.
I realized I had a shopping problem when I accumulated a balance of over $10k and it wasn’t decreasing. I realized I had a shopping problem when I was constantly buying dresses without a particular occasion to wear them. I realized I had a shopping problem when I had all these clothes, shoes, and purses, but only wore a few of them over and over again. I realized I had a shopping problem when I noticed that if I lost my job, I wouldn’t be able to make it on my own because I had no savings (but I had plenty of clothes!).
So, how can you recognize if you have a not-so-obvious problem with shopping? Here are a few signs I’ve encountered personally not detailed above or from others:
- You have plenty of clothes with their tags still attached
- You hide shopping bags of newly purchased items from your significant other or parents
- Your lunch breaks consist of heading to the mall
- You’re rarely seen wearing the same item twice in a span of a month
- You sacrifice a meal for a new pair of shoes
- You make an expensive purchase over an item you’re not too crazy about
- During the holidays, you’re purchasing two or more items for yourself for every one item for someone else
- You’re lacking closet and storage space because you have too much stuff
- You’re purging clothes and/or shoes every other week
What are other signs to recognize one is a shopaholic?