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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Shopping or Addiction?

How would you describe the difference between “normal” shopping and an addiction?
Normal shopping is something that all of us do, but compulsive or addictive shopping is described as a behavior which is inappropriate, excessive, and out of control. It is excessive shopping in which the person becomes impulsive and that impulsiveness leads to addictive shopping (shopaholic) behavior. Many helping professionals believe this addiction has a strong emotional basis.

What are some of the signs of shopping addiction?
• Spending more than budgeted. People who have a shopping addiction make excuses for their impulsive buying, or they don’t recognize the boundaries of a budget. Some people get into financial debt, well outside their income limits.
• Buying is compulsive. This means instead of buying one pair of shoes, the person will buy 3-5 pairs of shoes at one time.
• Buying is excessive. Purchases are like binges… they are excessive and continue until the “emotional fullness” is felt.
• Hiding the problem. Shopping addicts hide their addiction by storing away the evidence in closets, car trunks, or under beds. All of the sudden a spouse may discover a $20-30,000 credit card balance or secret accounts.
• A vicious circle. Addicts buy and then return the goods, but later purchase again. What remains for the shopper is the shame, the inner blame, and the guilt.
• Relationship destruction. Excessive shopping tends to destroy relationships because of financial burdens that are placed on the couple.

Suggestions for shopping addicts?
• Admit there is a problem. The first step to making a change is taking responsibility.
• Make a budget and stick to it.
• Get rid of the credit cards. Only use cash and take a limited amount of cash each day to
maintain that budget.
• Know when it’s time to cut up the credit cards
• Get credit counseling before it’s too late.
• See a counselor to learn the basis for your impulsive buying and the basis for your
emotional purchases.

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