Shopaholic: Solutions for a Compulsive Spender


Many of us are guilty of over spending. Part of living the good life is being able to purchase what you want and still stay within your budget and continue saving for the future. Keeping a balance between spending and saving is a discipline. We are fortunate that we can learn and master the discipline.

At what point do you cross the line between over spending to compulsive spender?

Although it isn’t listed in mental health professionals’ Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-TR (Text Revision), compulsive spending has characteristics to other forms of addictions like alcohol and drug addiction.
With compulsive spending, your initial feelings of over spending are altered. Those feeling are of extreme excitement or “high”. Later on, the “high”, change to guilt and regret for the behavior.

Determining if you are a Compulsive Spender

1. Do you experience an adrenaline rush or a “high” when you spend?
Spending money as part of your routine shopping shouldn’t alter the way you feel.
However, if you’re shopping and spending just to change how you feel, you could be a compulsively spender.
Feeling an adrenaline rush or a sense of excitement and thrill (a “high”) when you shop and spend is a red flag.

2. Do you buy items that you never end up using?
Maybe you have possessions stacked everywhere or taking up a lot of your living space. Or in your closet where you find them later with the tags still affixed to them?
• Even though you may not have a full-blown “hoarding” situation, collecting things you can’t use could signal you struggle with compulsive spending.

3. How do you usually feel?
Experts believe that people who compulsively spend are seeking the rush to avoid feeling the way they should do, which is unhappy or anxious. When you aren’t shopping or spending money, do you experience anxiety, feeling down, or “the blahs?”
• Take a serious look at how you feel much of the time when you’re just living your everyday life and compare to when you go on a shopping spree. You may be able to determine if there’s a problem or not.

4. Are you secretive with your purchases?
Some of the common characteristics of compulsive spenders are to hide purchases from their spouse. Also, they sometimes avoid being honest about how much money has been spent. And it is usually because of the guilt that comes with compulsive shopping after the adrenaline has run its course. This behavior can take a toll on relationships because money can easily get misused.

5. Can you pay your monthly bills?
Compulsive spenders tend to struggle with paying there monthly bills. This is because all the funds are used up and there’s no money left at the end of the month to take care of the bills.

6. Are you spending more money now than ever before?
When evaluating your spending habits overtime, ask yourself, have you become more aggressive in your spending habits overtime? This is maybe a red-flag for a compulsive spender.

What Can You Do About Compulsive Spending?

1. Acknowledge the behavior
The good news is that if you’ve already identified yourself as one who compulsively spends, you’re now free to take steps to decrease your spending.

2. Set up a budget
Seek assistance from someone you trust. To help you can create a realistic budget. Get in a habit of using cash, check or debt card. Also use a shopping list in order to maintain focus on only what you need to buy verse the urge to buy on impulse because of a sale.

3. Avoid temptation
For now, decide to stay out of the stores, off of the online shopping sites, catalog orders and away from the televised shopping networks.

4. Work on developing a positive mindset
If you feel better in your daily life, you won’t need to seek the adrenaline rush that compulsive spending provides. Get a hobby that can destruct you from the spending habit. Taking a walk or exercising is a good way to destruct you from the urge of shopping.

5. Consider seeking professional help
If you’re concerned about your compulsive spending, seeking professional help maybe your best lifeline.

Compulsive spending habits have a huge potential of destroying personal relationships due to financial misbehavior. If you have any of the red flags, be true to yourself and start fixing the problem. Compulsive spending is a symptom of a deeper rooted issue. Find the issue and solve it, then you will be freed from the addiction.

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