Spotting the Shopaholic in You

English: 'I'm Lovin It' — HM1(FMF) Fred Turner...

English: ‘I’m Lovin It’ — HM1(FMF) Fred Turner swipes his gift card in McDonald’s new card machine, April 4. The new machine now allows customers to use debit, credit or gift cards to purchase food. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A shopaholic is an individual who has an uncontrollable urge to keep shopping even if they do not need the items they purchase. For most people shopping offers an easy access to feeling good, away from problems of different scales. It starts with buying one thing or another for that great feeling after a tough day at work and before you know it, you spiral out of control and can’t stop buying things that you don’t need and keep buying simply to feel good. Soon, just one item does not cut it and you crave for more and more items which you do not necessarily need to cover up the void or escape the problems you are facing. If all this sounds familiar, you should ask yourself the question ‘am I a shopaholic?’

As much as you will consciously deny that you have a problem, after all how can buying things be considered a problem, if excessive spending is not curbed it leads to more serious problems. Look around your house or bedroom for that matter, what items have you recently purchased that give you that feeling of shame thinking that you probably shouldn’t have bought it. Are you hiding things your buy from family members, a spouse or loved ones just so they won’t question your spending habits? All these are signs that you are possibly a shopaholic in need of help. On the worse end would be battling with huge debts which are spiraling out of control but not being able to control the urge to keep on spending.

The reality is that spending has been embellished by retailers making it seem fine to ‘shop till you drop.’ With such catch phrases accompanying advertisements it is easy to fall victim of impulse buying to feel good and be happy like the lady or gentleman in the advertisement seemed. For most people this ends up being an escape route from their problems and the consequence is creating bigger problems in the form of debts. It is important to take the time and assess your situation to determine whether you have a problem and seek help.

The best place to start is to admit that you have a problem and seek help. Seeking help from family members or friends might be embarrassing for most people but often they are the people who are at a better position to help you deal with excessive spending. Ask a family member to join you on a shopping trip. This will often limit what you can buy and you are inclined to buy only what you need. If your finances are in jeopardy, ask a family member to control your finances or hold on to your credit or debit cards unless you absolutely need them. If all these attempts do not work, get rid of checkbooks and your debit and or credit cards to better track spending by using money. It also helps to seek professional help if you feel like your situation is beyond self control.

If you are already in debt, seek the services of finance counseling to learn how to bounce back from the worst consequence of being a shopaholic which is debt.

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