Are You A Shopaholic?

One in every 20 people in the USA spends money unnecessarily.  Often these purchases are made on an impulse and have little to no regard for the actual need of the item. People with this compulsive need to shop are referred to as “shopaholics.”  This disorder can cause catastrophic complications in both your financial and personal life. While studies show that this is a problem more prevalent in women than in men, men are not excluded altogether. The distinction is in the purchases made by men and women. Women tend to make many, individual purchases, therefore extending the shopping experience.  Men tend to prefer single larger purchases. Men would rather go overboard buying something of a large scale, such as the latest model car, a boat or a motorcycle and the like as opposed to a woman who may shop for a new wardrobe.

The following set of questions will help a shopper recognize when there may be more of an issue with their shopping than just finances. Take the following quiz and answer with a “Yes” or “No.”

1.    The best cure for depression in my opinion is shopping.
2.    I have a house full of lovely things that I do not need or use.
3.    I love the feeling I get when I buy something; and hate the down feeling I get a little after that.
4.    I feel on the top of the world when I shop.
5.    I cannot stop shopping when I like something, even when I know that I am in debt or cannot realistically afford the item.
6.    I often decrease the amount when I tell my friends how much I spent.
7.    I have problems at home regarding shopping all the time.
8.    I know my shopping has to stop, but I cannot stop.
9.    I cannot resist when I know there is a sale anywhere around me.
10. I have often lied to find time to go shopping.

If you have answered “Yes” to more than 4 questions, you could possibly be a shopaholic.  It is important to take urgent remedial action before this compulsion has devastating consequences or causes irreparable damage to your finances or personal life.

What can you do about compulsive shopping?

This is a disorder just like alcoholism and other addictions. The first step is in recognizing that there is a problem. Then acknowledge that [you] must take active steps in order to curtail the destructive behavior.  Using the 5 tips below the compulsive shopping can be addressed and damage to your financial stability minimized.

1.    No credit cards – ban credit cards from your wallet/ handbag. In the rare case where you must have one, place a low spending limit on the credit card. When feasible do not carry the credit card. Be honest with yourself. If the only reason there is a credit card in your wallet is “just in case…” then you do not realistically need to carry the card at all times.

2.    Make a list before any shopping trips – make a list of what you need to buy; whether it is groceries, clothes or any other items you need. Review the list and ensure that the purchases are actually “needs” and not “wants.” It is also beneficial to determine the stores from which the purchases will be made before you leave the house. Review your list often and focus on buying just the items on the list.  Discipline and proper planning are imperative to overcoming a shopping compulsion.

3.    Create a budget – Everyone knows the benefits of keeping a budget, however, are you actually making and keeping one? Use a budget to allocate funds covering all monthly expenses. A small portion of money should be designated for entertainment purposes. Just because you see the value of living on a budget, does not mean that you must deny yourself the simple joys of life.

4.    Get help – debt counseling agencies are superb with putting people back in charge of their lives. Find a good debt counselor and engage in dialogue to correct financial mishaps and concerns. The cost of seeking professional services is an investment of priceless proportions.

5.    Find other activities that provide satisfaction – look for hobbies, friendship, travel, sports – anything that will keep your mind engaged and happy in order to minimize the desire to shop compulsively.

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