Carolyn gives an insight into how bipolar affects her finances and gives some tips on how to manage spending.

Bipolar and overspending

Imagine experiencing a full body power surge, like being plugged into the national grid, and you're pulsing with energy whenever you want to spend money. Generally, a lot of money...

What I tend to do is walk about the shop, casing the joint and mentally selecting what I want. I have an overwhelming compulsion to buy everything I've picked out. I'm incapable of walking away empty-handed.

When I'm manic, my spending is frenzied

There's no other way to describe it. I order masses of books and DVDs from Amazon - more than I could ever hope to read or watch. I go shopping for clothes I'll never wear. Many still have their tags on when I inevitably take them to the charity shop.

Even when I'm not manic, I spend more than I should or can afford. In fact, after discussing it with friends, many of them also talked about the 'high' after purchasing something. I guess that's where the term 'retail therapy' comes from!

So, what to do?

I've got rid of my credit card to discourage online binge buying and now I try, as much as I'm able, not to shop solo. When I'm with a friend, their influence can rein in my spending. Certain friends actively monitor my spending when I'm out and, far from annoying me, it makes me so relieved that I haven't spent excessively.

I'm not perfect and just yesterday I went on a spending spree in John Lewis' haberdashery department - on my own. I often buy items I'll never use and the money I must have wasted over the years is sobering.

In conclusion, there are little tricks you can do:

  • leave your debit card at home
  • only shop with other people
  • only taking cash and setting yourself a limit
  • getting rid of your credit card (Yes, I know it offers consumer protection but it doesn't stop you from spending too much.)

Here are some useful links about money and debt.

Read the report from the  Money and Mental Health Policy Institute about crisis spending.