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Dear Sugar
I am addicted to shopping. I am so bad that about twice a month I send my checking account into the red by a lot. It's fortunate that I still am of age where I can live with my parents and I don't have a lot of bills. But I really need help - I go shopping up to three times a week and spend WAY more than I have. How can I stop and get my spending under control? I'm so bad that if I leave the mall without buying something I reward myself by going to Old Navy or Target and racking up an even bigger bill then I would have spent at the mall. Please help me stop. The Addict

Dear Addict
Curbing any kind of addiction takes self control and often even requires the help of others. There are a few things that you can try. Put yourself on a budget. Don't go over it unless it's an emergency. Put items on hold and wait a week or even a month before buying something so you know you really want it. Open up a savings account and make a goal each month for yourself. And by all means, start a 401K and max it out. Addict, you are young and have your future to think about. Don't spoil it by being a typical US consumer who lives on credit - it adds up faster than you can pay it off and you wind up spending your life playing catch up on bills. Now is the time to save so you can actually move out of your parents house and make the ultimate lifetime purchase of a house or an apartment- now that's shopping!

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