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10 signs that you are addicted to shopping

It might sound like a joke – but the stress, debt and emotional dependence is nothing to laugh about.

Image: shopping bags via Shutterstock

SHOPPING IS A favourite past time of many, but shopping addiction is a very real problem that can lead to financial ruin and destroy relationships.

Friday Night Lights author Buzz Bissinger recently detailed for GQ how his shopping addiction led him to spend more than $600,000 (467,000) in three years.

Much like gambling, alcohol, and drug addictions, it’s not easy to “fix” the problem, or even realise when there is one.

Terrence Shulman — the founder and director of The Shulman Center in Detroit, USA, which treats compulsive theft, shopping, and hoarding — spoke with us about the danger of shopping addiction and some of the tell-tale signs that you should seek professional help.

1. You shop when you’re feeling disappointed, angry or scared.

Buying something new for yourself is fun. But when you’re doing it whenever you’re feeling a negative emotion just because it makes you feel better, that’s a sign you could be addicted.

2. Your spending habits create conflict between you and someone close to you.

Shulman said: “A lot of people who are over-shopping are keeping it a secret from their family members, from their friends, and sometimes from their own husband or wife.

There’s a huge incentive to keep it secret because people are tired of arguing about money all the time or feel ashamed, so they open a new credit card account or hide the purchases.

3. You buy items with your credit cards that you wouldn’t buy if you had to pay cash.

If you’re spending money you don’t have, it can lead to enormous credit card debt, bad credit and financial ruin.

If you know this and are still purchasing beyond your means, that’s another bad sign.

4. You feel guilty, ashamed, embarrassed or confused when you finish shopping.

“People go for long periods of time without seeking help because of the shame,” Shulman told us.

“People often get overwhelmed and can’t bring themselves to announce to a friend, family member or partner that they’ve been keeping the secret, which keeps them paralysed in taking that first step.”

5. Your purchases are seldom worn or used.

If you constantly have a clatter of unopened shopping bags in your closet, it usually means two things — the first is that you’re buying things you don’t need, and the second is that you are shopping simply to shop and not as a means to an end.

6. You lie to your family or friends about what you buy or how much you spent.

Shulman said: “I’ve really been sensitised to how much shame people feel when they’re over-shopping.

Because the real stigma is that if someone knew you were in debt when it looked like you had your life together, it makes you seem irresponsible, superficial, materialistic, and that you’re a poor money manager and out of control.

7. Your eating or sleeping patterns have significantly changed.

“We know that most addictive behaviours interfere with people’s sleep and eating patterns,” Shulman said. “When people are under increased stress by having the addictive behavior they will either eat more or eat less, or they will sleep more or sleep less.”

“It’s usually a fairly dramatic change,” he added.

8. You feel lost without credit cards and think about money obsessively.

If you’re thinking about how much you owe, how much money is in the bank, and you could not afford your purchases without credit cards, you are not living a healthy financial lifestyle.

This could also lead to more stress, which could lead to more shopping.

9. You feel financial strain or struggle because of your purchases.

Financial strain or struggle is typically a hallmark for most people.

Shulman adds: “Although technically you can still be a shopaholic who’s not in debt and can afford what you’re purchasing, but it will still be negatively impacting you in other ways.”

10. You’re tried to stop – but can’t.

If you’ve tried to stop, you know you have a problem.

“Usually people try to stop on their own, and they may be successful for a short period of time but usually something triggers it and they go back into the behavior,” Shulman told us. “There’s a recurring pattern of promising others you’ll stop, but not being able to manage it.”

- Megan Willett

13 ways that supermarkets trick you into spending money>

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Published with permission from:

Business Insider
Business Insider is a business site with strong financial, media and tech focus.

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