Who doesn’t love Amazon, or the convenience of online shopping in general? Shopping online or in a bricks-and-mortar store can turn into compulsive shopping if your spending habits begin to have serious consequences. Compulsive shopping can be defined as being preoccupied with shopping and feeling that you might be losing control of your shopping behaviors. Compulsive shopping habits can be linked to other impulse control issues like gambling, binge eating or substance abuse disorders. Many of us suffer consciously or subconsciously from the need to “keep up with the Jones” or FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). However, are these needs realistic and what are the causes of the problem at hand? Since the economy has been strong in recent years, I have started to talk to others about compulsive shopping and the feedback I receive raises concerns. Questions about shopping habits might be the one thing your therapist forgets to ask or the one problem you fail to mention. Statistics indicate about 10 percent of American’s over-shop. This is on the rise in comparison to previous studies, and it is interesting to explore why this could be.
People overspend for the following reasons:
To escape self-awareness
To feel in control
To project an image in an appearance obsessed society
Deal with stress or trauma
Self-soothing feelings that accompany the shopping
To project an image
Compensating for perceived faults
A thrill or sense of satisfaction
Inability to resist a sale or a great deal
Modern life can send the message that bigger is better and style is important. In addition to Amazon, we have HSN, QVC and the internet, where we can shop 24/7. Apps and the ease of saving your credit card on file makes it so easy to shop in just a few clicks, whenever you want. How wonderful… or is it?
Commercials are brilliantly formed in a way that as a minimalist I even find myself asking if I need a kangaroo wallet or the latest anti-aging cream. It might be time that we start thinking about how we are thinking when it comes to materialism. Questioning norms can truly help us uncover what it is we truly NEED versus WANT. The choice to over-shop or spend is likely just a symptom of the problems we have in life. To manage personal spending, I would recommend asking yourself the following questions:
Is this a want or a need?
What positive and negative consequences will occur if I make this purchase?
Is this something I actually want, or have I been programmed to think I need this item?
If I don’t purchase this item now, will I really miss the item later?
Can I wait two weeks to purchase this item, and then purchase if I still want it?
Compulsive shopping can create havoc if not managed in a timely manner. People who over-shop typically suffer from changes in their eating and sleeping habits, issues at home and at work, and in their relationships. Compulsive shopping may be a band-aid for a bigger issue that needs tended to. If your shopping habits cause you distress, therapy or a self-help group may be beneficial if you are unable to make progress with this problem alone.