This Texting Service Could Stop You From Shopping

You know those moments when you're standing at the store holding a cute new dress seriously considering eating ramen for the next week so you can afford it? Wouldn't it be nice to have someone text you and remind you not to overspend at that exact time? A new text messaging service could help with shopping addiction, and it's made for those moments.

April Lane Benson is an author who wrote To Buy or Not to Buy: Why We Overshop and How to Stop, and she started the service in April to directly help her readers avoid overshopping. Her business is called the Stop Overshopping Text Messaging Program, and its name is pretty self explanatory. For $24.95, you can sign up for three months of the program. Every day, you'll receive two text messages. One is a generic text about spending, and the other is uniquely tailored to your situation.

Benson has already signed up 30 customers, and for now she does the texting herself. Sample messages include aphorisms like "Trying to fill emotional needs with material goods is trying to fit a round peg in a square hole. Won't work, no matter how hard you try," and "Happiness isn't the next purchase away — nor the next, nor the one after that. You already know this and keeping it in mind will be transformative."

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She also sends text messages tailored to individual clients, which are based on a survey they take when signing up for the program. On Friday and Sundays, they receive an extra text message because shopping is much more tempting on weekends. Benson will also send extra encouragement around shopping holidays like Black Friday.

It might seem counterintuitive to spend money on something that is designed to prevent you from spending, but the fee is nominal compared to the cash you could be dropping on clothes or shoes.

"Several research studies have been done to date showing positive effects from text messaging programs, so far mostly for smoking cessation and alcohol consumption," Benson said on the Today show. "Ours is the first about compulsive buying disorder."

Shopping addiction can be a really isolating problem, especially because people who struggle usually keep it a secret. This program could be the turning point in changing that while maintaining privacy.