Am I a Shopaholic? How to Determine if You Have a Serious Problem

It is estimated that up to 12% of Americans suffer from a shopping compulsion.

You may be a shopaholic if this checklist describes you:

  1. You have unopened items in your closet
  2. You shop beyond your means
  3. You purchase items for which you have no use
  4. Disappointments trigger shopping trips
  5. You feel a thrill when you make purchases
  6. You feel remorse following a purchase
  7. You hide purchases from family members
  8. On days that you don’t shop, you feel anxious

    Shopping works to fill a void. Compulsive shoppers may be feeling lonesome, depressed or anxious. Shopaholics experience a rush of dopamine from shopping, which makes them feel better and has them craving that rush again.

While it’s normal to feel a thrill when you buy a new outfit, it isn’t normal to feel that thrill when buying your groceries. It also isn’t normal to feel unsettled on days that you don’t shop.

Ironically, the act of shopping induces guilt and shame, which ultimately makes people feel worse than they felt before they went shopping. Also, people tend to make big purchases following a big disappointment. Say you were turned down for a job, so you go and buy an expensive pair of shoes. Your bruised ego might be temporarily soothed. But your brain will now associate that purchase with your rejection and you’ll re-experience that hurt every time you wear those shoes.

If you think you might be a shopaholic, don’t despair. With a bit of discipline and help from family and friends, you can kick the habit for good.

Here’s how to curb the urge to splurge:

A.) Talk it out

When you feel a shopping binge coming on because of an emotional overload, call a friend. Talk through your feelings instead of smothering them in unnecessary and expensive purchases.

B.) Cash or debit only

When you’re out shopping, use cash or a debit card connected to your checking account balance. This will force you to stick to your budget.

C.) Avoid temptation

If you know you tend to overbuy in certain stores, avoid them until the habit is under control.

D.) Identify triggers

The next time you feel the urge to shop, take note of why you’re feeling that way. You’ll be better equipped to deal with these triggers when you can recognize them.

E.) List it

When you need to go out and shop for anything, first create a list of everything you need. This will help you buy only what you need and minimize spending.

If you feel like you’ve got a serious problem, our friends at GreenPath Financial Wellness can help.