Shopaholics Anonymous

Shopping is a fun activity. We get a buzz when we see a sale and purchase a fashionable outfit for ourselves, expanding our wardrobe and making our personal style more dynamic. We want to look and feel good right? But, of course, there’s an invisible line that many shoppers unknowingly cross and soon their financial health is affected, and their lives start to change. Shopping can easily become highly addictive—much like drinking alcohol and working overtime—many of us know that. But not everyone knows the steep impact compulsive shopping can have on a person’s mental, emotional, financial, physical health, and even relational health.

What causes people to become shopaholics?

Shopaholism, as I like to call it, has a psychological basis. When someone discerns a void in their life, they engage in certain tangible behaviors to fill that void. Depression, feelings of loneliness, and inadequacy can lead one to shop compulsively—that is, if they value material things and see that as personal validation.

Consumerismis another strong contributing factor. We live in a consumer culture that dangles supersized “deals and steals” over our heads everywhere we look—television, radio, billboards, internet, even ads on our smartphone apps! We are bombarded with the exclamatory “You can’t miss this offer, only available for a limited time” sales pitch. It’s seemingly inescapable. Our culture glorifies endless shopping because “there will always be something to purchase.” The nature of Western society has a way of making us natives feel like we don’t have enough, or what we already have is not good enough. So, as a result, we are taught that shopping is a social norm and a “need” that must be fulfilled which is true but what our culture doesn’t seem to propagate is responsibleshopping.

What do they look like?

Some of the many signs of a shopaholic:

  • Hiding credit card bills, shopping bags, and receipts so nobody knows just how much they’ve shopped and spent.
  • Feeling euphoria when shopping and buying.
  • Buying what they don’t need.
  • Holding back shopping details—they may say that they went shopping but lie about how much they’ve spent.
  • Shopping when feeling angry, anxious, depressed, and lonely to elevate their mood—even if they experience those feelings daily.
  • Impulsive shopping—not looking at price tags or calculating the amount in their shopping cart.
  • Shopping and buying so often that it affects their daily obligations such as school and work.

Dangers of being a shopaholic?

Decline in financial health. Long-term shopaholics will find themselves consumed in debt because they tend to spend money that can be used for monthly payments. Their discipline and motivation to save money wavers and they feel a need to spend instead on tangible items and in many cases, they overspend.

Strain in relationships. Poor financial health is the number one reason why married people go their separate ways. If one is a shopaholic, they are likely causing their finances to weaken, especially if they are shopping without the spouse knowing. Trust between spouses is weakened as well because shopaholics keep their purchases hidden.

Compulsive shopping also increases anxiety and causes shopaholics to seek validation by means of materialism and may have an endless need to impress others with their nice things.

Buying less—breaking the habit!

No addiction is too great to overcome. If you’re a shopaholic or know someone who is, take heed to these tips:

  • First, admit that you have a shopping addiction and that you need help. If you want to be realistic in ending this habit, you must be realistic with yourself.
  • Get an accountability shopping partner. Find someone you know, and trust, who will be hard on you and keep you from spending recklessly. It also helps to have someone who is financially savvy to help you shop responsibly.
  • Pay in Credit card shopping causes us to spend more because we don’t “feel” our money; we don’t seeour money declining. A small, plastic card won’t give us that same visual and we end up spending more because of that.
  • Buy what you needand hold back on what you want.
  • Seek professional counseling or visit a support group.

We can all find a healthierway to shop less and still feel satisfied!


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