Where'd the Money Go?: Lynette

"We Live Like Millionaires"
Dr. Phil talks to a mother who is almost $38,000 in debt, and fears that she's setting a bad example for her daughters.
"I don't look at price tags. I don't realize how much I spend. I just keep buying," says Lynette, an admitted shop-aholic who is nearly $38,000 in debt.

Her 17-year-old daughter, Nicole, doesn't understand her mother's shopping sprees. "My mom spends money like it literally grows off trees. I'm scared one day she's going to have no money left and she's not going to know what to do," she says.

Victoria, 15, feels differently. "I love to shop because it makes me feel better getting clothes that other people don't have," she says.

Lynette blames her habit on her upbringing. "I was never really taught anything about money," she says. "When I was 15, I remember going by this white Camaro, and telling my mom, 'Oh, that car is so pretty,' and that car was in my driveway three days later."

She was recently married, and fears that her shopping is putting a strain on her marriage. Her husband, Anthony, agrees. "I think Lynette does have a shopping problem. She has a tough time saying no to herself and the children," he says.

Admitting that she doesn't have any respect for money, Lynette turns to Dr. Phil for help.
Lynette, Nicole and Victoria join Dr. Phil on stage. "What do you think's going on?" he asks Lynette.

"I don't know why I just can't say no," she answers. "A lot of times when I shop, I don't feel good about it. I go home and I'm literally sick that I've spent so much money."

When Dr. Phil wonders why she can't say no, Lynette replies, "I guess it's because I live my life every day as if it's my last. I don't want to end up 60 or 70 years old, sitting in a nursing home somewhere wishing that I did this or I did that when I was younger. I just want to enjoy life."

"You're going to sit there in a nursing home at 80 years old and say, 'I bought that sweater. I did it. I stood up and bought that sweater, and God bless me for doing it,'" he jokes as the audience laughs. "Is that it?"

Lynette says it's more than that. "Whether it's vacations or cars or houses, I feel like there's a part of my life that 's very unsettled and that's why I'm here," she confesses. "I've had seven homes in three years because we buy a house " whether it's a quarter of a million dollars, half a million dollars " I like it. In six months, I'm bored."

Turning to Victoria, Dr. Phil asks, "You think this is fine, right?"

She agrees. "I think it's fun."

When Dr. Phil wonders why Nicole is not so into shopping, Nicole says, "I've never been into buying or shopping as much as they do. They don't even care what the price tag is."

"And you just think that's nuts," Dr. Phil presses.

Nicole responds, "I think it's ridiculous," as the audience claps.

Addressing Lynette, Dr. Phil says, "You define yourself by what you've acquired that day. And if you don't acquire something that day, does that mean you're nothing that day?"

"I've never really looked at it like that," she admits.
"Aren't you likely to miss what you're all about if you continue to define yourself so materially?" Dr. Phil asks Lynette.

"Absolutely," she says. "I want to be genuinely happy with what I have, not with what I can go out and buy."

Dr. Phil explains that Lynette needs to change her definition of success. "You miss who you really are by focusing on these things that have nothing to do with who you are," he stresses. "What if you changed your definition of success and said, 'You know what? I'm going to make a commitment that, other than essentials that I write down on a piece of paper, I'm not going to buy anything for 30 days'?"

"I can do that," Lynette proclaims, while Victoria gasps in disbelief.

When Lynette asks Dr. Phil to define "essentials," he tells her she can't purchase clothing items for a month. He warns her that Victoria is going to protest. "She's going to get out of the car and say, 'Listen, that bald guy's crazy! What have you gotten us into here mother?'''

Lynette tells him that they have a deal and they shake on it.