It’s easy to confuse the blinding thirst for an online shopping spree with a healthy passion for shopping. Many shopaholics simply deny that there is a problem with their daily trip to the e-tailer of choice, but an online shopping addiction can be a form of escapism that can leave a dent in that wallet, and is sure to fill out that credit card balance quite nicely. The thrill and excitement of spending and shopping are no longer limited to the storefront. Online spending has reached new heights; according to InfoWorld (Jan. 2007), U.S. retail Web sites collected $102.1 billion in 2006.
The steps towards a full-fledged online spending addiction can be difficult to detect. Here are the critical steps involved in the development of an online shopping addiction:
1. Set no limits on your credit cards. Make sure you take inventory of as many different cards as possible, and allocate each card to a store. Better yet, take a look at the latest statement and see how much ‘play money’ you’ve got to work with.
2. Subscribe to dozens of shopping catalogs. This is a great way to browse before taking action on your shopping strategy of the week.
3. Tune into television shopping channels while you’re working out. Take notes between workout machines if you have to, you don’t want to miss out the latest deals.
4. Join the mall walkers and browse the stores from afar. This will help you develop a strategy for your online options at home base.
5. Avoid other activities completely until you get your shopping fixof the day/week/hour. It’s important to prioritize your day around your shopping hours.
6. Learn to say ‘yes’ to everything. ‘No’ is not part of your shopping vocabulary; it just doesn’t make sense to compromise, especially when you’re in the zone.
7. Defrost those credit and debit cards your husband/wife/significant other snagged from you last week. (In some cases, you might still be able to see the numbers when you need to make your payment online).
8. Ignore the words ‘budget’ and ‘expense account.’ Accountants don’t belong in your lifestyle.
9. Never use your checking account for online purchases. The credit card is the only tool you need to explore the world, and the web!
10. Join as many online shopping newsletters and e-mail lists as possible, so you have a collection of alerts and sales right at your fingertips. Section off some time in the day to go through this growing list of ‘news’.
Online shopping can be a form of escapism like many other addictions. If you find yourself glued to multiple shopping networks and spending much of your offline time finding more ways to shop, chances are you’re wrapped up in the eye of the hurricane. . .