Dear Annie: I seem to have a problem.
A couple of months ago, I started to apply for and receive credit cards. I was approved for five credit cards plus a number of shop-now, pay-later plans.
Well, I ended up going nuts. I shopped and shopped and shopped some more, until all of my credit cards were maxed out. I shopped in stores and spent hours shopping online. Even after the bills started coming in, I continued to shop using those shop-now, pay-later plans. Of course, now I am in debt.
I have stopped shopping now that everything is maxed out. I believe that I will have the means to pay for my massive shopping sprees, but it will be rough. I am just curious to know: What happened to me? — Crazy Shopper in NY
Dear Crazy: If I had a nickel for every person who's been seduced into living beyond her means, I'd probably have enough money to pay off your debt. Approximately 1 in 20 adults in the U.S. are compulsive shoppers, and the internet has only exacerbated the problem.
Shopping addiction shares many traits with drug and alcohol addiction. For compulsive shoppers, the brain's reward center is stimulated when making a purchase, producing a euphoric feeling. This high is short-lived, though, and their mood plummets immediately afterward.
Take your maxing out as a bottoming out and the beginning of recovery. Return anything that still has tags on. Cancel all of your credit cards except one, to be used for emergencies only. (Wrap it in layers of duct tape so you have to think before using it, if that's what it takes.) And absolutely no more of that shop-now, pay-later business.
Contact the nonprofit National Foundation for Credit Counseling (800-388-2227) for resources.
Dear Annie: My husband and I have been together for 25 years. I have a son from a previous marriage, whom my husband has raised as his own. My son was 3 when we started dating, and his father was long gone; to this day, his father has not communicated with him. My son has always had a good relationship with his paternal grandmother and wants to carry on the family name.
Recently, our dog died, and I have been hurt by comments that were made to me. Three people, including a close friend and one of my husband's family members, remarked that the dog's dying had to be particularly difficult for my husband because he has no children and the dog was his child. I was quite upset by these remarks. Just because my husband is not my son's biological father does not mean he isn't a father to him. And that's not to mention the fact that the loss of the dog was equally difficult for all of us.
I would ask you to remind your readers that not all families are traditional these days and that people should think about what they are saying before they say it. To keep peace, I ignored these remarks, but quite frankly, it was not easy. — Upset Mom
Dear Upset: Sometimes the rudeness of people leaves me dumbfounded. I can't fathom why your husband's friends and family would say such a thing. I can only hope that your son didn't have to hear it. Let's all take this as a reminder to open our mouths less and our hearts more. Also, I'm so sorry about your dog, and I wish you, your son and your husband all the best.
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