Compulsive shopping

Financial Problems: Understanding Compulsive Shopping

Loan Express does not require credit checks, decline a loan based off a credit check, nor do credit checks affect the minimum approved amount of the loan. The following article is purely for educational purposes.

Understanding a Spending and Shopping Addiction

Compulsive shopping is a modern-day addiction due to many factors like the availability of credit, online shopping, and influences from television, movies, and social media. Your love for going on a shopping spree has turned into an addiction to spending when you see yourself shopping to avoid feelings, spending more than you ever have, justifying unnecessary purchases to yourself or others, having multiple credit cards and debt to back your bad habits, and continuing to engage in this behaviour despite it having a negative impact on your life and your finances.

You can also better understand yourself and your shopping addiction by keeping track of your receipts and spending, recognizing when you feel shame or guilt after shopping, and sensing the rush of dopamine you feel when engaging in this impulsive behaviour. Your brain is programmed to crave immediate gratification from buying yourself or others things. Still, there are ways to get past your addiction and have complete financial literacy.

How Do I Break My Addiction to Spending Money?

There are many ways to break your shopping addiction, including:

  • Unsubscribe from mailing lists and social media pages. When you don’t have deals and flyers in your inbox or mailbox, and you’re not being constantly influenced to buy things from social media accounts that glorify owning and buying many things, you can break free from your addiction to have the latest things.
  • Review your bank account. Tracking your bills, debt, and payments can help you create a budget that you must stick to in order to gain financial freedom – set goals, know the exact amount of money you have in your accounts, and know what your spending limit is.
  • Pay with cash or debit instead of credit. Credit cards give you the illusion of money you don’t have, and can help wrack up debt immensely. Paying for items with cash or debit means you have to pay for them immediately, and if you don’t have enough money, you can’t buy specific things. 
  • Set shopping goals. Writing down goals like not shopping until the weekend or leaving credit cards at home when you’re going to a place where you may have the urge to shop can help with budgeting and give you control over your money.
  • Develop inexpensive hobbies. People often shop when they are bored or feel like they need things to fill an emotional void, so developing hobbies that can act as a stand-in for your shopping addiction can make all the difference. Pick up a sport, learn a musical instrument, or try journaling and drawing.

Can You Actually be Addicted to Spending Money?

Yes – any habit that releases dopamine in the brain can become an addiction. When you feel powerless in a mall or shopping centre, even though you know your spending is affecting your finances and relationships, you know you have an addiction as serious as any other. Compulsive spending and the immediate gratification found that comes from buying something when you have a shopping addiction seems like an inescapable feeling – but there are many tips and tricks you can follow to break these habits and get yourself back on track.

What Causes Compulsive Spending?

There are many psychological components of compulsive shopping and spending. You are more likely to shop online or in-store when you are feeling depressed, lonely, or feel like you lack control in some areas of your life. You may want to buy things to relieve stress or avoid confronting these emotions that are often very difficult to live with. People who suffer from feeling empty, always seek approval from others, tend to be excitement-seekers, and have the inability to deal with negative feelings are more susceptible to becoming addicted to shopping.

The Effects of Compulsive Shopping and Spending

Spending more than you can afford and choosing things over confronting negative emotions can have a destructive effect on your life and those around you. Although you experience a dopamine rush while making a purchase, the immediate feelings of guilt and shame can make you lash out at your loved ones and feel like you’re stuck in a vicious cycle. 

Some effects of shopping addiction include:

  • Financial damage from debt, overspending, and credit cards.
  • Relationship issues such as not confronting emotional pain and prioritizing shopping over family and friends.
  • Mental health issues from the strain of the addiction itself and how it can worsen your negative feelings.

Practical Tips to Manage Overspending

A shopping addiction can be caused by a number of factors, but the most common one is the desire to avoid negative feelings, such as depression or loneliness. We are taught to avoid pain, which is why compulsive shopping to find the perfect gift or treat for yourself can seem extremely inviting. However, there are some tricks you can try to slow down spending and recover from your shopping addiction.

Identify Your Spending Triggers

As stated, emotions are very much behind addictions like compulsive shopping, so knowing what triggers these negative emotions can help you better prepare yourself to deal with them instead of shopping to avoid them. Develop hobbies or healthy habits you can go to when you feel depressed, empty, or lonely, so you avoid taking out your credit card and doing damage.

Track Your Spending 

Take a close look at your bank account and find out how much you are spending on shopping – you will be shocked. This can often be great motivation to create a budget and realize how much little purchases can add up. Get a handle on your bills and make a goal to pay off all debts, including credit card debt, so you can have an easier time stopping yourself from spending in the future.

Create a Needs vs. Wants List

There is always an alternative to shopping that can give you the need for dopamine. Figure out what and who you value most in life, and understand that when you continue to borrow and spend, you are continuing to ruin your relationships and goals. Use this motivation to replace compulsive shopping with a hobby that brings you joy, such as journaling, cooking, or art. Understanding what you need, like to pay off debts and have a healthy outlook on life, can help you also understand unnecessary things you want, like a new purse or pair of shoes.

Don’t Use Your Credit Card Like A Debit Card

Even if you don’t necessarily have a shopping addiction, using your debit card or cash instead of a credit card can help a lot with sticking to your budget and avoiding going into debt. Credit cards offer grace periods and large spending limits, which can make them extremely attractive when you experience dopamine every time you make a purchase. Debit cards and money keep you on track and aware of what you can spend with no sneaky bills showing up on a later date.

Learn To Shop Smarter

Now that you have some tools to help you fight your shopping addiction, you may need some help getting off your feet to pay off debts and credit cards. Unlike other lenders, Loan Express seeks to improve your financial situation – not to put you further into debt by loaning you an amount of money you cannot afford to pay back. We only approve you for a loan amount you’ll be able to repay and we are entirely transparent about costs you can expect. For straightforward, sensible loans and to learn how Loan Express works, click here to find out more.