Whether it’s the newest iPhone, PlayStation, or the latest Louboutin shoes, shopping addiction comes in many forms. Do you have the urge to splurge on buying items that are not a necessity? With all the online marketing and ads on social media reinforcing the shopping mentality in us, it’s hard to avoid the temptation.
Occasional spending in moderation isn’t a bad thing, especially if you’ve worked hard and, therefore, deserve it. But when the urge to buy becomes uncontrollable, it starts to disrupt your finances.
When your addiction to shopping causes anxiety, some changes need to be made. Shopping addiction is similar to gambling or alcohol addiction, you always feel the urge to repeat, and it can be damaging.
If you’ve watched the movie Confessions of a Shopaholic starring Isla Fisher, then you witnessed how her life spiraled down because of her shopping habits. You also saw that she made changes in her life to overcome her shopping addiction. If you have a shopping addiction or know someone who is a shopping addict, read this article to stop these unhealthy spending habits.
Shopping addiction is a global problem. It is estimated that 5.8% of the general population in the US experience compulsive buying. Most people who have a shopping addiction tend to have a mental health decline like depression, anxiety, self-esteem problems, or pent-up negative emotions.
The term “shopaholic” is a slang word used to describe a person with a compulsive or impulsive shopping habit. It involves spending money even beyond their means. It is a behavioral addiction involving compulsive buying just to feel good, avoid negative feelings, and fulfill emotional needs.
According to the Shopaholics Anonymous group, there are different types of shopaholics:
- Compulsive Shopaholics – Such people are characterized by the obsessive behavior of buying and shopping when feeling emotional distress. They act this way because of a compulsive buying disorder.
- Trophy Shopaholics – They are perfectionists in nature. They will not stop shopping until they find the perfect item. A trophy shopaholic ends up buying many items without knowing when to get satisfied.
- Big Spender Shopaholics – This type of shopaholic has the urge to go shopping to keep up with the rich and big spender image. They love flashy and expensive items to maintain that “rich” image.
- Bargain Seekers – These people purchase items not because they need them but because they are a bargain or on sale.
- Bulimic Shopaholics – Bulimic shoppers are people who have a strong desire to buy something to feel happy. Once the feelings of happiness wear off, they realize they feel guilty and can’t afford the item and return their purchase. This cycle can become addictive.
- Collector Shopaholics – These shopaholics do not stop shopping unless they think that their collection is complete. For instance, they shop for the same shoe style to collect all colors.
Impulsive and compulsive shopping are used interchangeably, but both are different. Impulsive shopping is making unplanned purchases without thinking twice. Impulsive shoppers don’t really think if they really need what they want to buy or what the consequences are when buying it.
In contrast, compulsive buying is a serious psychological and behavioral struggle with the urge to repeatedly buy things until the feelings of unease or anxiety go away.
Like other types of addiction, such as gambling or alcoholism, shopping addicts hide their actions. Addicts may find it hard to admit they have a shopping addiction because, in the first place, they won’t know they have it. How do you know if you or a loved one is addicted to shopping? Here are the signs.
You are a shopaholic if:
- You hide credit card bills, receipts, or shopping bags. This is a sign you are trying to hide something because you feel guilty and are afraid to get caught.
- You spend too much money on shopping even if it’s way beyond your means. You buy a $3,000 bag even if your monthly salary is only $3,000. This means you won’t have money to pay the rent and buy groceries.
- You feel the need to buy something new as a reaction to feeling sad, angry, or depressed.
- It has become a long-term challenge to take control of buying something new.
- Your shopping addiction is becoming the root argument with family members.
- You are in a declining financial situation, like going over the limit of your credit card bills or running into more debt, and your savings get wiped out in the long run.
- You keep on making purchases of things that you don’t need, just because they are on sale or you think you’re saving because of the bargain.
- You hide your shopping from your partner or family.
You can stop your shopping addiction. If gambling addiction or substance abuse can be managed, so can shopping addiction. It’s a matter of self-control and making a conscious effort to put a stop to all of this. Here are some proven tips that work to stop shopping addiction.
If you’ve been stuck in a pattern of piling credit card bills, do the damage control first. Face your debt, and pay up the consequences of your shopping addiction. Setting your bills or seeing your savings all gone is a knock into the reality that it really is time to make changes. Start with a clean slate by setting your finances first.
If having credit cards with high spending limits tempts you to shop compulsively, then have your cards revoked or cut them into pieces yourself. If you can’t cut your credit cards because you might need them in the future, at least don’t place them in your wallet so you won’t get tempted to use them. If you think you have overcome your shopping addiction and you believe it’s the right time to purchase something, you can always request a new card.
Here’s a saying to live by when it comes to shopping: if you can’t pay in cash, it means you can’t afford it. Break the habit by carrying or paying only with cash. You will realize what you can afford, and if you see you don’t have cash in your wallet anymore, you will stay away from shopping for things you don’t really need. This may be a challenge, but it is an effective strategy.
By tracking every penny you spend, you’ll be aware of how much you’re spending. Start with a list in your journal. Here’s an example:
My monthly salary: $3,000
My monthly expenses:
- Rent: $700
- Groceries: $300
- Utilities: $200
- Insurance: $300
- Rainy day savings: $500
- Gas: $200
- Savings for a new car or house: $500
- Miscellaneous expenses: $300
- Total: $3,000
If you plan and monitor your expenses, you will realize how much you can spend on side shopping. It is important to make a list so you can live within your means. If you know you’re short this month, you will be able to avoid the urge to buy things you don’t need.
If you’re addicted to online shopping, there are three things you can do:
- Avoid online shopping sites.
- Uninstall shopping apps on your phone.
- Unsubscribe to emails from shopping stores.
These little steps can make a big change. The next time you are tempted, think again and take control of your emotions. If you have the urge to shop, distract yourself. Take a bath, meditate, exercise, play with your dog, or go out for a walk.
If you constantly find yourself buying things impulsively when you’re outside, avoid department stores or shops or stay away from malls. Bring a friend or a family member with you when you go to these places to have someone who can keep you from unnecessary spending.
If you have the impulse to buy something, try the 30-day rule. Give it a month to think. After 30 days, you will realize that you don’t really need it anymore. This is one good way to take control of your shopping addiction.
If you think you need help, reach out to your partner, a family member, or a trusted friend. Maybe they can keep your credit cards for you or accompany you to the mall so you won’t be tempted to shop big.
You can ask a loved one to plan and monitor your expenses. Have someone in charge of your expenses and spending until you have taken control of your shopping urges.
If you think that things are starting to spiral out of control and you want to regain control, seek therapy right away. A licensed mental health professional can help you understand why you’re feeling the way you do.
Why are you experiencing anxiety when you can’t shop? Why do you have these feelings that make you want to maintain that big spender image? Is it coming from peer pressure or feelings of low self-esteem? There’s always a reason behind these feelings, and a counselor can help you sort out these feelings.
Addiction may have gotten the better part of you, but you need not let this continue. Are you looking for a counselor or therapist to overcome your shopping addiction? Invest your time with the licensed professionals at Kentucky Counseling Center. Schedule your appointment now.