There seems such a fine line between being addicted to something, or just being keen on it. The day I realised I was twitchy without any Dairy Milk in the house was a revelation. I thought I was just keen on chocolate, not seemingly dependent on it.
The same is true of spending. Spending is emotionally satisfying, it fills up the days beautifully and we have many pretty things to show for it. But if we’re exceeding our income, then perhaps we need to look at the way we spend to find the culprit. Answer these questions, and find out whether you’re addicted to spending.
Do you head to the shops for a pick me up when you are down?
All research shows that spending does trigger the pleasure response in our brains. Most people enjoy browsing, or buying a special little treat, but if you head to the shops every time you feel a bit blue, feel out-of-sorts if you can’t get there, and spend, then perhaps shopping has become more than a pastime.
Do you buy things you don’t really need?
Everyone buys some things they don’t need. An extra couple of chocolate bars for the drive home. The dress that I thought I would fit into “once I hit the gym for a couple of months”. But people suffering from a shopping addiction tend to buy, irregardless of whether they like the item of not, whether it fits or not, whether they’ll ever use it or not. It’s not a materialistic urge, rather an addiction to the process of spending money. If you have a wardrobe full of clothes with the tags still on, maybe that’s an indication.
Do you ever hide your purchases or feel ashamed?
Always a pretty good indicator that we know we’re doing something wrong. We might lie to ourselves about what we do, but if we’ve started lying to our friends and loved ones about our shopping, then alarm bells might ring.
Do you max out your credit cards?
If you have several cards in your wallet, or you pay off the minimum repayment only to stack it back on again, you might have to reconsider how you use credit and how you spend. Irregardless of a shopping addiction, multiple cards is usually a sign of financial strain.
What can you do if you feel you are addicted to spending?
Once it became acknowledged that shopping could be an addiction like any other, treatment became more widely available. The first step is always to build up your support base. Tell your trusted friends and family the extent of the problem, and ask for their support.
The next step is to find a good counsellor or group. As with all addictions, shopping is about wider issues than wanting pretty dresses. If that is too extreme; find a friend or family member and take a few hours to really confide in them how much your over spending is annoying you.
To control break-outs of money spending, here are a couple of techniques you can follow.
- If you have to window shop, do it after hours so you can’t be tempted to buy anything.
- Write out a shopping list and train yourself to stick to it.
- Cash is king. If your cash runs out, then something has to go back on the shelves.
- Write it all down. Nothing improves behaviour better than self-awareness, so filling out a spending diary every night can be a powerful tool.
- Avoid the sales. Everything at a sale event is bent towards making you spend extra, so give them a miss until you feel your spending is back under control.
- Focus on experiences; not things. For instance a walk in the park with the dog and your best friend is more fun then buying a braclet.ar