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Tips for Spending Addicts and Shopaholics

Updated on September 4, 2022
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In addition to addressing anxiety and relationship conflict, Janis helps clients look at how poor money management may affect these issues.

Shopping Addiction Fantasy: High-Heeled Red Pumps

Women love to purchase a nice set of pumps.
Women love to purchase a nice set of pumps. | Source

What is Shopping Addiction?

If you're trying to figure out whether or not you have a serious shopping addiction, do a quick self-assessment based on the following criteria:

  • Frequent shopping at stores and on online (at least weekly)
  • Hiding purchases from spouses/family members
  • Following through on compulsions to buy things you don't need
  • Spending more money than you can afford to spend
  • Going into excessive debt with multiple credit cards
  • Finding reasons to justify a purchase ("I deserve to treat myself")
  • Neglecting other financial commitments (rent/mortgage/utilities)
  • Cluttering your home with bags of new purchases (unopened or with price tags)
  • Shopping when you feel upset, angry, or depressed
  • Feeling guilty and out of control over your ability to limit spending
  • Minimizing the problem despite a pattern that has worsened over time

Shopping Addicts Overextend Their Credit Cards

Shopping addicts overuse their credits cards, making their balances higher than they can afford to pay when the bill is due.
Shopping addicts overuse their credits cards, making their balances higher than they can afford to pay when the bill is due. | Source

Spending Money Gives the Shopping Addict a Rush

Shoppers love to shop, especially during the holiday season. They get a rush from the activity of making a purchase. Nothing compares to catching a sale and receiving a deep reduction on the price of an item a shopper really needs.

Regardless of the time of year, the avid shopper can always find a deal. If a shopping addict sees something she wants, even if it's not on sale, she is compelled to have it anyway, at all costs.

This is the life of a shopping addict or "shopaholic." She sees what she wants, buys it, and eventually begins to wonder if her insatiable need for a weekly trip to the mall or daily visits to online shopping sites is a serious problem. Her shopping activities for the most part, are kept secret, as she becomes concerned about engaging in compulsive, addictive behaviors. Holiday time just gives the shopaholic another reason to feed the addiction.

To understand the psyche of the addicted shopper, read the poem below, describing what some may view as a real problem. "Shopping Spree" is a lighthearted look at what it feels like to have a shopping addiction.

Perfumes are a Favorite Addiction of the Shopaholic

Expensive scents for men and women can make for decadent purchases.
Expensive scents for men and women can make for decadent purchases. | Source

Shopping Addiction Ballad

"Shopping Spree" (JLE)

I really love to shop

It energizes me

Like flowers bathing in the sun

I bloom brilliantly

Like the taste of lemonade

Followed by a sigh

I feel relieved instantly

On my natural high

Spending lots of money

No matter how recklessly

Relieves my tension, not to mention

Sets my spirit free

The rush I get is powerful

It sweeps me off my feet

Revolving doors of department stores

Begin my whirlwind treat

The purchase doesn't matter

I need just have a bag

Leaving a mall with nothing at all

Really is a drag


Bombard my peripheral vision

Shoes, bags, and jewelry, too

Stimulate my shopping mission

The feel of silk and merino wool

Send tingles through my hands

With choices vast and limitless

Designer and name brands

Sales clerk sings, "cash or charge,"

A verse well known to me

I hear it about a dozen times

During my shopping spree

My venture's end is near

Beginning four hours prior

Dismissing thoughts of how I've made

My credit balances higher

With several bags in hand

I am really tired

Back slightly hunched with numbing feet

Two hours ago expired

But it really doesn't matter

I enjoyed myself thoroughly

I'm satisfied and tension-free

Thanks to my shopping spree

Shopping Addicts Cannot Resist Spending a Fortune on a New Handbag

A soft, colorful hand bag is a must on a shopper's mission.
A soft, colorful hand bag is a must on a shopper's mission. | Source

A Better Understanding of Your Spending Problem

If you've been honest with yourself, you've probably surmised by now that you have a spending problem. How often does it feel like you're riding a roller coaster blindfolded when it comes to striking a balance between your spending habits and your payment of bills?

In our society where much emphasis is placed on money, status, credit, image, competition, assets, and ownership, consumers make a lot of purchases to live out these descriptors of success. We wrestle to find answers to why these things become so important to us as we become addicted to the attainment of "things" to define us. The answers cannot be found in how much we have in our wallets, our closets, nor our bank accounts.

The answer lies in this tucked away little place called the "Internal Money Pit." The Internal Money Pit is a deep abyss hidden within us needing to be filled periodically with all the treasures money can buy, and all the status, comfort, security and gratification these treasures represent.

The problem with the Internal Money Pit is it never gets filled. By the time the comfort gained by the purchases wears off, the emptiness returns. The bottomless money pit has to be refilled again, and again.

A Lavish Charm Bracelet is a Shopper's Dream Find

A new piece of jewelry completes an afternoon shopping spree.
A new piece of jewelry completes an afternoon shopping spree. | Source

Repairing the Bottomless "Internal Money Pit"

The solution to your money problems lies first in the examination of your Internal Money Pit. That means taking a closer look at what needs are met and what void is filled when you spend money. This exercise in self-exploration includes looking at the influences of family history and dynamics, life experiences, and past relationships.

It further entails deeper examination of the messages you received about the value of money as far back as childhood and how that conditioning has affected your spending behaviors and relationship with money.

Within that context, you will need to explore (preferably with a counselor) the ways in which external responsibilities (bills, mortgage, car payments) are sacrificed for internal comfort, causing financial instability, and what stressors cause these cycles to repeat.

Once you identify and remove those damaging cycles, you can finally fill the voids with what you may really long for, i.e., a sense of wholeness, self-worth, dignity, self-respect, control over you spending, and ultimately, your life.

Janis Leslie Evans, M.Ed., N.C.C., L.P.C. is a licensed counselor in the Washington, DC area.

Prioritze Your Spending By Sorting Wants From Needs

expensive jewelry
watch replacement
trendy clothing
winter coat or suit
weekly manicure and pedicure
monthly manicure or pedicure
designer pumps
classic pump or winter boots
the latest ipad
a practical cell or tablet
eating out frequently

Sort out which items are most practical and affordable as you prioritize your spending.

Are you a Shopaholic?

Shopping Lover, Shopaholic, or Addicted

Which description best fits you as a shopper?

See results

© 2013 Janis Leslie Evans


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