If you’re a true compulsive spender, don’t even bother with shopping the day after Thanksgiving! Here’s a reprint of an article I wrote for my recovery blog, “Getting Out from Going Under,” about why you should just ignore the madness on the biggest spending day of the year.
In AA, they say that New Year’s Eve is the night for amateurs. In Overeaters Anonymous, Halloween and Thanksgiving are both deemed as such. And for compulsive debtors, there is no question that the day after Thanksgiving, known as the single biggest retail day of the year, is certainly the compulsive debting, spending, and shopping day for the amateurs in the world.
We, who are experts at debting and spending, don’t need any special day to go out of our minds and dig in to find the sale. But really, standing in line for hours to save $10 on an item, is that how you want to spend your morning?
Awareness is a DA Tool
In order for me to stay sober with money, I have to become aware of what “tweaks” my disease. In fact, DA Tool #9 speaks to that: “Awareness: We maintain awareness of the danger of compulsive debt by taking note of bank, loan company, and credit card advertising and their effects on us. We also remain aware of our personal finances in order to avoid vagueness, which can lead to compulsive debting or spending.”
For me, add to that being barraged with wants and ways to get them satisfied cheaper (A.K.A. “sales”), and I’m high as a kite with desire and craving. Craving is a dangerous mind-state for me. I have to stay in gratitude and acceptance or I literally get high from the adrenaline rush of too much desire for what I don’t have.
Getting a Deal May Not Be Such a Great Deal
All the ads leading up to today feed into that very consumer notion – if I want it, and you make it seem like I am getting a deal on it – I will go through fire to get it.
Yes, it’s not just the barrage of ads, it’s the added fuel of “getting a deal.” I know many in DA who are really “tweaked” by sales and, in fact, had to stop shopping in certain stores because of all the sales. But on the day after Thanksgiving, this is taken to a whole new level. The thing is, it may not be all its cracked up to be.
In fact, numerous studies have shown that you may not be getting the deal you think you are.
Romancing the Drug
My sobriety and peace of mind have become more important to me than the high I get from the sale. I know if I look longingly at that stuff, whether I buy it or not, I get a “contact high.” It’s not pleasant; just makes me crave it all the more. My abstinence will never be solid enough to let me “romance” the thought of my drug … so why test it?
I deliberately ignore the sale flyers in the paper and in my Inbox. I delete them. Not always easy. I started hyperventilating over a Friday sale on frames because I need some, but don’t have money in my spending plan this month. I pressed that delete key and breathed a sigh of relief.
And this is where the spending plan comes in to provide essential support. If you live by your spending plan, you are limited as to what you will spend in any category. So, sale or not, if you don’t have the money, you will just cause yourself unnecessary pain by looking for the item when you cannot yet afford it, which may lead to resentment.
But let’s say you have the money. If you find yourself getting high at the thought of the savings today and embark on a (abstinent and committed) spending binge, how will you feel tomorrow about it?
Our disease is cunning and baffling. Could you end up feeling out of control because of your behavior, even if you are abstinent? And, if so, could that lead to a slip or relapse down the road? I urge you to think about whether it is worth taking the chance for the money you will save.
A New Way to Live
For me, it’s just easier to ignore the day after Thanksgiving and go about my life today. To deliberately NOT buy into that great “deal of a lifetime” thinking. To spend today doing other things in my life. Whatever I want (like those frames) will still be there next month.
Even more, I am learning not to live by the deal and to buy what I need as I need it and can afford it, deal or not. Sometimes, I’ve found that chasing the sale just causes me angst. Much of the time, the money I’ve saved isn’t worth the frustration I experience doing all that’s required for the savings (like “free shipping” when I spend over a certain amount).
Believe it or not, you can use self-restraint as a spiritual practice for your recovery. So just for this one year, why not make it easy on yourself and your recovery by thinking of the day after Thanksgiving as just another day to be grateful?