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Confessions of a Shoe Shopaholic: Avoiding the 4 Stages of Footwear Addiction

Ladies, let's be real for a second and just throw this out there: millions of women worldwide have major problems when it comes to shoe shopping. Not so much the kind of problems where we buy too many shoes or our closets are overflowing with hundreds of different pairs of shoes (who in their right mind would call that a problem, anyway?!), but more so the problem that occurs when that dreaded credit card bill comes in the mail and we realize we don't actually have the money to pay for our most recent purchases - or even worse, we don't even wear the purchases, and we can't afford them to boot.

Those are the real problems, and it takes a true recovering shoe shopaholic to admit that these are actual issues and causes for concern. It's all too often that we get such a rush from trying on a cute pair of shoes or swiping that wonderful piece of plastic and trucking our goodies home and then a couple weeks later forget that we ever bought them or, worse, really can't afford them, after all.

Consider me your professional interventionist, because I'm here to help you avoid exhibiting these major signs that you have shoe shopping problem so that you can enjoy shopping today and every day for the rest of your life.

Stage 1: Experimentation

Like any addict, shoe shopaholics have a tendency to lean toward one favorite kind of shoe, but happily dabble in other shoe fashions as they shop. This ends up leading toward over-spending, too many shoes that never get worn or even worse yet, overwhelming debt.

Luckily, the solution to this one is simple: go shoe shopping with a mission. If you really need a pair of shoes, you really need a pair of shoes! But when you shop for them, force yourself to purchase that one, and only that one, pair of shoes and nothing else.

Stage 2: Regular Use

Many people live their entire lives stuck in this stage, which, there are worse things that someone could do. But regular use when it comes to shoe shopping means that you just can't stay away from the shoe store or the mall. Having a bad day? Your first instinct is to run to the shoe store. Feeling a little down on yourself? Shoe store. Got in a fight with your boyfriend or your best friend? Why, hello, shoe store.

To avoid having this become a negative habit that works toward your all-out addiction to shoes, just try to limit your trips to the store and make absolutely sure that you find other ways to recover from bad days than going out and buying more shoes! It's OK to go once in a while - try to limit yourself to once a week, then cut back to once a month, then maybe just once every couple of months as you need new shoes. Your wallet will thank you!

Stage 3: Misuse/Abuse

This stage refers specifically to your credit cards, or any means of paying for your pricey shoe addiction, for that matter. Abusing your credit and making purchases that you can't actually afford is a serious sign that you either already have or will shortly develop and true and serious shoe shopping problem.

People across the globe struggle all the time to pay their way out of debt, and many never actually get there and instead have to file for bankruptcy or fight with a debt collector. Do you want to be one of the many, or one of the few who can actually stay out of debt to begin with?

Credit cards are a dangerous thing - so use them only when you have enough money to pay them off in full (let's face it, some cards are worth using strictly for the rewards points and redemption programs they offer on purchases such as shoes - 20% off coupon for my next purchase? Yes, please!). Make sure you have the funds readily available so that you could pay cash for the shoes if you wanted to, but you're just choosing to use your card.

Stage 4: Dependency

Ooo girl, you've gone and done it now - when you depend on shoe shopping to be a part of your daily life and you go crazy if you can't get to the mall or the shoe store, you are absolutely dependent on your shoe shopping addiction. You feel like you can't make it through a day without buying a new pair of shoes. You feel like your world will fall apart if you don't run to the store on your lunch break and buy that gorgeous pair of flats that's 15% off.

You're also dependent on your credit card(s). You just don't have the funds available to pay off your debt and you struggle to make your regular monthly bills because of it.

This is the point at which there really might not be any turning back. So your best bet, of course, is to avoid getting to Stage 4 of this shoe shopping addiction by controlling your urges to buy, managing your budget and treating your credit card fairly and with respect and, of course, recognizing when it's time to stop.

Should it get to a point where an intervention is necessary, your friends will likely be supportive throughout your recovery and encourage your new non-shoe shopping ways.

If you know someone who is suffering from or might be showing early signs of shoe shopping addiction, intervene immediately before the matter escalates. Shoe shopping addiction is a serious and life-changing matter and you could (and should) do your part to help. Know the signs. Know the treatments. Shop smarter.

Ashley Dean is a freelance writer who was once a shoe shopaholic. Her weakness was comfortable Dansko clogs since she wore them at work all of the time. She has been in recovery for over 6 months and now she shops clean, and knows that everyone else out there suffering can do the same.

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