The High Cost of Being a Shopaholic

The economy is booming, unemployment is down, and spending is up. There are more things to buy–and more ways to buy them–than ever. Unfortunately, it can be easy to overdo it with credit cards. Perhaps you have had some of the following experiences:

Shopping gives you a thrill or “rush,” followed by a letdown.

· You’d rather be shopping than almost anything else.

· You try to conceal your spending habits from others.

· You buy things you don’t need with money that you don’t have.

If these items apply to you, take a moment to jot down some answers to the following questions.

  • What do you like about shopping? Perhaps you enjoy browsing through merchandise, discovering a bargain, or looking forward to using the items you purchase.
  • Do you have a “secret” reason for shopping? For instance, some people shop to cope with anger, stress, loneliness, or low self-esteem. Does shopping really solve the problem?
  • Is there anything about shopping that you don’t like quite so much? Maybe it’s not as exciting as it used to be, you’re having financial problems, family members have expressed concern, or you feel guilty about your spending.

How do the benefits stack up against the drawbacks? If you are concerned about your spending, a good place to start is to keep track of what you’re buying. Write down how much you spend on different categories (e.g., food, clothing) each week. How many of your expenses are for things that you want but don’t really need?

Recognizing the problem is the first step. Counseling and self-help groups such as Debtors Anonymous can help you get the problem under control.