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What Is Overspenders Anonymous?

Geri Terzo
Geri Terzo

Support groups exist for many serious addictions, and overspending tendencies are no exception. Overspenders anonymous is one such support group for individuals who make purchases on impulse or emotion and who spend more money than is earned. Sometimes compared with debtors anonymous, this religious-based help group is designed to help offenders recognize the triggers that might send individuals on shopping sprees for needless items when there are bills yet to be paid.

The support group for overspenders is designed similarly to the alcoholics anonymous program by including 12 steps to recovery. The similarities between the two programs include an acknowledgment that help from a higher power is needed to recover from the compulsion of overspending just as it is called upon by alcoholics. Other steps toward recovery include admitting that there is a problem, examining the moral implications of indulging, and apologizing to any individuals or parties that might have been hurt as a result of an individual's addiction.

Overspenders anonymous is for people who are addicted to shopping.
Overspenders anonymous is for people who are addicted to shopping.

Individuals who make purchases based on emotions and who may rely on adrenaline highs received after buying items would qualify for an overspenders anonymous program. When purchases are used to reward one's self to an extreme, this might also qualify someone for this type of recovery program. Psychologists suggest that overspenders anonymous members might use spending money by covering a meal check with someone else, for instance, as a way to gain friendship and acceptance. Another sure sign of someone who is in need of help is the behavior of hiding purchases and shopping bags from other people.

Some people struggle to stay within their budget when shopping.
Some people struggle to stay within their budget when shopping.

The frequency with which overspenders anonymous meetings occur varies depending on the organizer and the location, but the recommendation is for addicts to attend weekly gatherings. It's possible that support might only be available through the Internet or even in books and other publications if an individual does not live in close proximity to meetings. There are individual chapters, however, that are organized throughout the U.S. and internationally, including places such as New Zealand. Scheduling for meetings changes and depends on the region, and an Internet search should provide a listing of the latest events.

Like alcoholics anonymous, shopping addicts are urged to appoint another recovering overspender, who has been through a successful recovery, as a sponsor. It is also recommended that spending addicts ask other trusted individuals to shop on behalf of the offender. These tips are all part of the overspenders anonymous program.

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Discussion Comments


I think that I am an overspender. My daughter has virtually quit talking to me. She told me the other day that she is through trying to manage my money. She told me that she is no longer going to tell me anything. If I lose my house, or cannot afford to pay my utilities, so be it. She is through. I spent $130 on groceries, a printer, some venetian blinds for my kitchen, and some other items. She was furious. She told me that she had said not to spend any money for a month so that she could see what my bills were going to look like. I thought she had given me the ok to spend money on things she had put on the list. She was really upset with me. She has not talked to me for a week.

I am 78 years old. My son agrees with her that I spend too much money. I really need help to control myself. I have recently moved from Florida to Colorado, where I bought a very nice house. I am now wondering if I made a mistake in coming back to Colorado. However, my son is getting ready to relocate to San Diego in April. I know that I cannot afford to live there. I don't know what to do. Are there any meetings in Colorado that I can attend on a weekly basis? I have gone to Alanon for many years as I was married to an alcoholic who was in denial that he had a drinking problem. He finally did quit drinking and smoking because doctor told him that he couldn't promise him another day of life if he continued. He finally did.

He then picked up gambling which was almost worse, as he spent all of his free time going to a small gambling mecca here in Colorado. One year, my income taxes stated that he gambled almost $25,000. I am in a world of hurt. I don't want to lose my family over this problem. I did manage to pay part of my tithing to my church this past month. I am at the point where I need some outside help. Should I go back to Alanon meetings again to help me with my addiction?


@Chmander - One time when I was at the movie theater, I ordered a large drink. Though I hadn't originally planned on buying popcorn, the vendor sneakily convinced me. He was like - "Would you like some popcorn with that sir?" Though he got me the first time, I'm a lot more careful about that stuff.

Also, though most people see movie theaters as a place for entertainment, the vendors see it as more of a business, and they're willing to make money in any way possible. Speaking of which, did you know that the ticket money you pay doesn't go to the theater, but to the production studio? That's why concession stands are so expensive. The theaters have to make money somehow.


@RoyalSpyder - I agree with that. One of the ways in which vendors (and other businesses) can cause you to overspend is by recommending that you buy something else with your product. It's happened to me plenty of times, and I always fall into their trap. I guess some people (myself included) will never learn, ha ha.


I've actually never heard of overspending as an addiction, but it's definitely not hard to see how it can become one. In this day and age, it's all about money. Sometimes, if you're out at a store, and your goal is to buy one item, other things may catch your eye, such as the new shirt, or a brand new pair or shoes. However, it doesn't jut apply to shopping, but also to the movie theater as well, and many businesses. Although in those cases, your overspending is more of the vendor's fault than yours.

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    • Overspenders anonymous is for people who are addicted to shopping.
      By: Odua Images
      Overspenders anonymous is for people who are addicted to shopping.
    • Some people struggle to stay within their budget when shopping.
      By: nyul
      Some people struggle to stay within their budget when shopping.