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Does going overboard at Christmas mean spending is out of control?

This is one of the worst times of years for people who overspend. For compulsive shoppers, the guilt that goes with maxing out credit cards is assuaged a bit when the purchases are gifts for other people. The effect is the same, of course: a pile of debt added to the existing pile of debt.

The good news is that there are programs in Illinois and Wisconsin to help people take control and manage, even conquer the disorder. Debtors Anonymous has several meetings a week in different locations around Chicago. (Find a meeting or just learn more about the organization at The program may not be for everyone, but learning about resources like DA is a great start.

There are times when the Internet is not a helpful tool. We all know someone who combs the web for information about mysterious symptoms. It isn't poison ivy, it is an advanced case of a flesh-eating virus. No, it's poison ivy. Blurred vision must be a sign of a detached retina. Or, a clue that it's time for some reading glasses.

Most of us have overindulged at the department store once or twice, but we are not all compulsive shoppers. To help people understand themselves a little better, DA has put together a "debt quiz." The following list covers just a portion of the quiz, but if you recognize yourself here, you may want to take the full quiz or follow up with some more research.

1. The person that lives for today without thinking about tomorrow could be in trouble if the attitude carries over into shopping and spending money. Living for today should not mean abandoning any thought of the financial impact of a buying spree. Living for today should not put making it through tomorrow at risk.

2. People who borrow things, including money, and do not return them could also be on the path to compulsive shopping if it happens regularly. Habitual shoplifting and employee theft are also warning signs -- warning signs with very serious consequences.

We have a few more to share, and we will get to them in our next post.

Source: CNBC, "Debt addiction: Red is not the new black. Shopaholics beware," DaVida Plummer, July 7, 2014

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