How to tackle a shopping addiction
Although it is not a widely-recognised condition, many people across the country suffer with a shopping addiction, or oniomania. The problem can have a hugely detrimental impact on the sufferer’s finances and wellbeing.
With terms like shopaholic often being bandied about, it can be easy to underestimate a compulsion to spend as an issue that plagues many people and is thus harmless. However, it is important that those affected identify the problem and take issues to combat it.
Do you have a shopping addiction?
Don’t dismiss the idea that you have a shopping addiction just because you don’t visit the high street everyday or because you only visit the less expensive stores. Compulsive buying takes many different forms and can affect anyone.
The first question you should ask yourself is: “Am I spending more than I can afford?” Those with a shopping obsession are more likely than the average person to either disregard the impact on their finances or rationalise their spending concerns away.
If you are using the cash you need for essentials, such as the rent, groceries or bills, on luxury or unnecessary shopping trips, it should set alarm bells ringing. Maintaining this bad habit will soon cause your debts to spiral out of control.
Sliding into debt is not something you should take lightly, especially if it is as a result of non-essential spending. Arrears can eventually lead to life-changing problems like bankruptcy, and these issues could leave you and your family homeless.
You might also have a shopping addiction if you find yourself being constantly preoccupied by the habit, or if your behaviours are a cause for concern with your loved ones. Take the first step to recovery and admit to yourself and family that you have an obsession.
What causes you to shop obsessively?
Many people turn to obsessive shopping because they become engrossed in the financial freedom they reach adulthood or start to earn more. Others use it as a distraction from issues in their lives, or to combat boredom and a lack of social interaction.
It is important to think about what is causing you to shop. Self-reflection can be extremely difficult, so consider keeping a diary and then looking back at the entries. Are there any trends evident? Can you identify any shopping triggers?
For example, it might be the case that you go shopping after a stressful day at work. No matter what the apparent reasoning behind your urges, think about ways to tackle them in a less destructive manner.
Seek out replacement behaviours and try to turn to these rather than your credit card when temptation creeps in. Combat stress with a long soak in the tub, beat boredom by starting a new hobby like jogging or address your loneliness by calling up friends.
It is also a good idea to carefully control your environment to limit your compulsive tendencies. Avoid buying fashion magazines if they will encourage you to go out and purchase new clothing, stay clear of shopping centres, and avoid taking your purse or wallet out unless absolutely necessary.
Where to get help
Although there are strategies that can help you to improve symptoms of oniomania, it is difficult to go through the process alone. For starters, don’t be afraid to speak to your loved ones about the issues.
Letting them know that you have an issue and are eager to combat it will put their mind at rest and give you a place to turn for support. Shopping addictions can put huge strain on relationships, so remembering your priorities could be crucial to ensuring your success in beating the problem.
You can also seek professional help – speak to your doctor about getting advice from a counsellor. With obsessive buying, it might also be a good idea to get in touch with a debt solutions expert,
who can help you develop a repayment plan and provide invaluable budgeting advice. It can also be beneficial to speak to fellow or ex-addicts who can relate to what you are going through, potentially offering useful guidance as well as vital emotional support. Check out forums on websites like DailyStrength.org or eNotAlone.com and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
With the help of Debt Free Direct, Stef got herself out of debt and now writes articles to help people stay on top of their finances.