True tales of a shopping addict

I have $11.85 in my account and am at the Town Center mall. I start dripping cold sweat; my hands are shaking and I’m all jittery. I am an addict — a shopping addict with no job.

I take pride in overspending and overdrawing all of my accounts. The letters and notification of failed payments from credit cards never cease to pile at the foot of my door. I thought it was a control problem, but, according to the FAU Counseling Center, it’s emotional.

“Overspending issues usually go to a deeper problem,” explains Richard Rini, director of the FAU Counseling Center on the Boca campus. “Usually, certain personality traits are the ones that lead to that kind of impulsiveness.”

In my case, it’s not an impulse — it’s a need. If I don’t always manage to spend absolutely all of the money that I have in my account or in my wallet, I panic. The thought of having money and not doing anything with it absolutely terrifies me. If I were an alcoholic, I’d get the same stomach-twisting pains at seeing Absolut vodka and not being able to drink it.

I spend money to keep up with fashion, settle my blues and celebrate a very much deserved “A” in a class. Any occasion is an excuse for shopping, and it doesn’t matter what it is or how much it costs.

I get panic attacks at the sight of a mall. I become so excited that I feel the palpitations of my heart in my mouth. I get nauseous and my blood pressure goes down. But as soon as I step into the store, all of my problems magically disappear and I feel alive again. 

Because I’m unemployed, everything I own was paid for with my parents’ money. Instead of being a responsible student and spending their money on books and school supplies, I ended up going to Saks Fifth Avenue and splurging $100 on dresses and shoes.

I was at least relieved to find out that I am not the only student at FAU with this problem. Senior Vanessa Ricci, a criminal justice major, admits that she must also go shopping every week.

“I absolutely have to go to the mall three to four times a week,” says Ricci. “It doesn’t matter where it is, as long as I drop some money on a cute outfit.”

Thankfully, these spending issues don’t go unnoticed by the FAU Today and Beyond Wellness Department on the Boca campus. They offer different workshops and lectures that help students learn how to spend their money wisely.

“We have people come in and give workshops on money and the management of it,” explains Jenna Beckwith, the department’s health promotions coordinator. “However, those workshops are only available during the fall and spring semesters.”

Additional organizations like Debtor’s Anonymous focus on helping people struggling with extreme debt problems due to overspending. Their meetings can be found in various places in South Florida, and they offer yearly counseling.

After completely blowing the rest of my $11.85 on coffee, cigarettes and a couple of magazines, my only option left is to book an appointment at the Counseling Center and get my act together — or at least my accounts.

After all, the counseling is free, and I’d rather go to a shrink than continue to be woken up at 7 a.m. by debt collectors begging me to make a minimum payment.