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If that doesn’t help, try the strategies proven to help most compulsive spenders, says Lorrin M. Koran, a psychiatry professor at Stanford University. Don’t carry around credit cards or checkbooks so you can’t spend more than the cash in your wallet. Never shop alone or without a list, and keep a journal listing the items you want to buy, your feelings at the time and the pros and cons of any purchase.

“This is a problem that only occurs in a society with easy credit,” Lorrin says, “abundant advertising and a consumer culture that says, ‘You are what you own.’ ”

TIPS TO PARE DOWN:
Is spending money on stuff distracting from your other pursuits? If so, consider scaling back. Joshua Millburn, a minimalist and co-author of “Everything that Remains: A Memoir by the Minimalists,” offers these suggestions.

1. Ask yourself how your life might be better if you owned fewer material possessions.

2. If you see benefits to living with less, get rid of just one thing.

3. If you’re feeling brave, have a packing party. Millburn helped his co-author and friend Ryan Nicodemus put his belongings in bags to give away.

4. Now, with every new item you buy, ask yourself, “Will this thing add value to my life?”

Brett Graff is a former U.S. government economist and the editor of www.thehomeeconomist.com, where she reports on the economic forces affecting real people.

©2014 The Miami Herald
Distributed by MCT Information Services

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