While many people – especially women – joke about being shopoholics, shopping addiction is no laughing manner. Each year, millions of people accumulate massive credit card debts and spend way beyond their budgets. Shopping addiction is far more than the occasional shopping spree or overspending during the holiday season. Rather, persons with a real spending problem need shopping like alcoholics need liquor.
Many terms are used to describe shopping addicts. These might include compulsive spenders, spending addicts, etc. For the most part, shopoholics spend money to conceal deeper problems such as depression, loneliness, anxiety, low self-esteem, inferiority, and so forth. In some instances, these persons put too much emphasis on money and material possessions. By shopping, they feel comparable to those they admire; as a result, their confidence is lifted.
There are many underlying reasons to explain why a person develops compulsive shopping behavior. Individuals who grew up in a poor household may try and overcompensate as an adult. This may result in owning several pieces of clothing, in which some items are never worn or the price tag never removed.
Although some compulsive spenders cannot afford their habit, a large percentage of shopoholics have disposable income, which allows them to literally “shop till they drop.” Unfortunately, the problem lies in the inability to use self-control. Because shopping makes some people feel superior, these person may habitually announce shopping escapades, and feel a sense of worth from the reaction of others.
Description of a Compulsive Spender
• Shopping because of feelings of disappointment or anger
• Shopping habits are the root of many arguments
• Feeling empty without credit cards
• Using credit to buy elaborate items
• Shopping results in a “high” or feeling of jubilation
• Shopping binges leave you feeling guilty or ashamed
• Concealing shopping habits
• Overly concerned or obsessed with money
Consequences of Shopping Addiction
• Excessive Debt
• Legal Problems
• Relationship Problems
• Financial Hardships
Ways to Manage Compulsive Shopping
• Never use credit. Make all purchases with cash or debit card.
• Get rid of credit cards
• Shop from a shopping list
• Never shop alone
• Avoid shopping catalogs and home shopping channels
• Seek counseling (therapist, credit counseling, debtor’s anonymous, etc)