Everyone likes going shopping. The thrill of trying on new clothes, treating yourself, and coming home laden with bags of lavish goodies – but it’s possible to take it too far. There is a phenomenon known as compulsive spending, or shopping addiction, that can be detrimental to one’s mental health, not to mention their finances.
So how can you tell if you’re a compulsive shopper? Here are some of the signs to look out for.
- You turn to shopping as a way to cope when you experience chaos in your life or strong emotions such as sadness and anger.
- You feel the need to lie to others about the things you have bought and the amount you have spent.
- You make a lot of purchases on credit cards that you wouldn’t make in cash.
- Juggling multiple bank accounts and credit cards to keep on top of your finances.
- Financial troubles caused or exacerbated by shopping.
- Buying things you don’t want or need.
If any of these symptoms sound familiar then you might have a shopping addiction. If you want to take back control of your life and your money, here are five tips to beat your habit.
Admission is the first step
We’ve all heard the adage, but it rings true. I struggled with shopping issues for years, but finally admitted my shopping addiction at the beginning of COVID, when the stores closed shop. All those years of chasing sales with coupons and a FOMO mindset turned me into a shopping addict. When I couldn’t get to the shops, I found my attitude changed. I needed time to realize what shopping and sharing deals did for my family, both the positives and negatives. Until I admitted there was an issue, I found every excuse to shop. It’s an ongoing battle, and I’m sure will continue to be a struggle in my life. I am determined to beat this, and hope to help others along the way.
Create a lifestyle budget
When we shop compulsively, it can be hard to see the consequences until it’s too late. We are spending so much money on clothes and accessories, and there’s a good chance we may spend more than we can afford. The best way to keep on top of our financial situation is to create a budget. Track your income and your essential outgoings, like bills and rent, and this will give you a good idea of how much disposable income you have to spend each month.
Adverts constantly bombard us whenever we go online, and these can often pressure us to buy the latest fashion trends or that beautiful loose diamond that catches your eye. Avoid this temptation by unfollowing brand pages on social media and unsubscribing from email newsletters. By changing your environment, you can change your life. For the longest time, I deleted the emails without looking at them, and that seemed like a win. Recently, however, I’ve started to open them, scroll to the bottom without reading, and actually unsubscribing to them, and it’s been quite freeing.
Make yourself accountable
When trying to beat any addiction, it doesn’t take much to make you fall back into old ways. One of the best tricks for maintaining your willpower is to make yourself accountable. Talk to a close relative or trusted friend about your situation, and tell them your plan to quit. This will give you added motivation to beat your addiction, as you won’t want to let them down. I found comfort in a Shopping Adddiction Facebook group and suggest looking for something similar for your needs.
Pay in cash
Paying with credit cards is too easy. It can lead you to make reckless purchases you really can’t afford. Avoid this by only taking cash with you when you go shopping. Having a stack of bills feels much more real, and will make you think twice before blowing your paycheck on that unnecessary item. With stores running low on physical change these days, you will second guess your smaller and more easily ignored purchases.
To keep you focused on your plan, it’s a good idea to set yourself a target. This could be a limit to the number of shopping trips you can make each month, or a maximum spending figure. My goals are to only spend on essentials until I finish paying off my credit cards and outstanding debts.