Do you know someone close to you who is suffering from shopping addiction? A girlfriend who complains of her income because she can¬'t get enough Manolo Blahniks? A daughter who memorizes promo codes instead of studies for final exams? A colleague who constantly shows up late for work because of her midnight sale adventures at the mall?
While shopping is a popular American pastime and can be an effective stress reliever, shopping too much is an altogether different story. It can lead to financial disasters, impaired relationships, health problems, and deterioration in the many areas of one¬'s life: professional, emotional, social, and even mental. (Not to mention maxed out credit cards.) There are many tell-tale signs that distinguish a shopper from a shopaholic ¬- the term we use to describe a person whose disorder is compulsively spending (a lot) more than he or she actually earns.
One sign is a seemingly uncontrollable obsession with money ¬- and where to use it. I have a friend who, because of her shopping addiction, has resorted to ¬"counting the chickens before they hatch.¬" With money that she does not even yet have, she makes a great number of purchases online for items that she doesn¬'t need ¬- like nine extra pairs of denim jeans. That¬'s why, with her, there is no such thing as a budget: it is exceeded before it is even properly allocated.
Another sign is denial, just as in other types of addiction. Shopaholics tend to hide their transactions from the people around them ¬- even from themselves. They buy and buy and buy, oftentimes with the use of hidden bank accounts, only to find out that they have run out of credit in their cards and pasted more promo codes in a day than a mouse can handle.
Chronic spending is characteristic of people who cannot stop shopping. They do not just splurge seasonally ¬- like on Christmas, Valentine¬'s, or back-to-school periods ¬- but they go at it every week. Maybe even more often than that. It is a habit that has become hard to break and which worsens over time.
Another sign of a shopaholic is an overwhelming feeling of powerlessness during dry season. Let¬'s face it: the power to buy aids our self-esteem and can help us feel more important, confident, and successful. But if a shopaholic loses that power, he or she will sulk, feel depressed, become anxious and lonely, and lose perspective on what truly makes a person; they think that only shopping can make them feel better, giving them an unnatural sort of high.
Of course, this addiction takes its toll not only on the shopper but on the people close to him or her. It can affect friendships, family relationships, and social life, because a shopaholic who is so preoccupied with spending and buying can resort to isolation. And while looking for bargains and promo codes is supposed to be a wise way to spend money, there are still boundaries. Shopaholics don¬'t know how to save money at all.
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