A Nation Of Shopaholics: 2 Million Aussies Struggling With Shopping Addiction
The Herald Sun reports the worrying statistic above, against the backdrop of exponentially rising personal debt. More and more of our compatriots are beginning to realize, “I have a money spending problem” and “I need to stop spending money”.
People shop – it’s a fact of life. But when does a necessary act and pleasant pastime morph into an addiction? Psychologists compare shopping to an escape from reality, similar to that offered by gambling, alcohol, and illicit drugs.
If it makes you happy, can it be that bad? Affirmative, says The Huffington Post Australia. There can be too much of a good thing. The desire to shop trumps the need to budget. A shopaholic cannot control their spending. They shop and buy in a compulsive manner. On some level, a shopaholic realizes the fleeting pleasure will soon give way to regret and financial issues, but they just don’t know how to stop spending money.
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“Win or lose, we go shopping after the election” – Imelda Marcos
Oniomania or compulsive shopping is a bit tricky because it is a socially acceptable mode of behaviour. We are bombarded by ads trying to convince us how happy buying something will make us.
Many experts disagree that habitual overspending is an addiction. For something to qualify as an addiction, it needs to involve a psychoactive substance that causes symptoms, such as withdrawal. Oniomania has yet to be entered in the diagnostics manual of diseases, not least because of disagreement on how to classify it.
A typical symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder can be spending money. Excessive spending and depression are directly linked, with one giving way to the other and vice versa, like two sides of the same coin. Some specialists categorize shopping addiction as an impulse control disorder like compulsive stealing. Others classify it as a behavioural addiction similar to gambling.
Maladaptive shopping patterns begin to form in one’s late teens or early adulthood. The transition to shopaholic often runs parallel to the development of other disorders, including eating disorders, mood and anxiety disorders, personality disorders, or substance use disorders.
Consumerism has become the epitome of modern life, but shopping addiction is not a recent phenomenon by any means. Since it was diagnosed, we’ve begun to unravel its mechanisms. Excessive, impulsive spending produces a temporary high. By the time the item ordered arrives, many shopaholics already feel unhappy with it. It’s almost as if one is doomed to relive this over and over because they just don’t know how to stop being compulsive.
“When you’re shopping you forget about eating!” – Jennifer Hudson
Shopping addiction gives a person an excuse to put off addressing pertinent issues in their life, such as getting out of a bad relationship or looking for a new job.
Shopping stimulates the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine, bringing about sensations of joy and happiness.
A shopaholic attains social acceptance and with it, a perceived (not real) sense of accomplishment.
Shopping can improve (temporarily) one’s self-confidence, self-esteem, and even sense of self-worth. It makes up for something that is missing in your life.
Shopping addicts have a pressing need to possess certain items. They feel that if they don’t get the item they want now, they’ll never get it and miss out.
Specialists believe people who have problems with shopping could benefit from cognitive behavioural therapy. It works by engaging the prefrontal cortex, the most “advanced” part of the brain that’s responsible for strategic thought and planning, to help the shopaholic begin to exert more control over their behaviour.
Even with therapy, online shopping addiction can be difficult to overcome because triggers are everywhere. Additional measures need to be taken, such as blocking problematic websites.
Shopping addiction can have devastating financial and emotional consequences. The potential for addiction is there when purchases are made for emotional and not pragmatic reasons. You buy something because you want it, not because you need it.
You may be addicted to online shopping if you get upset when something prevents you from making a purchase, such as an interrupted Internet connection or another technical issue.
How to curb spending is not an issue that concerns you, at least initially, because shopping is the only thing that makes you feel good.
“My husband and I are doing a workshop. He works and I shop” – Unknown
With time, shopping can start causing problems. The bills start piling up, creditors are after you, you’re asking friends and relatives for loans, arguing about shopping with your husband or wife, or falling behind at work because you spend most of your time in the office browsing through online stores. Before you know it, shopping has consumed your life. You’re talking and thinking about shopping all the time. You have stopped using the Internet for any other reason. You have no other pastimes or hobbies anymore.
Eventually, shopping takes control of your life. You can’t stop yourself from pressing the “buy” button. You have no power to keep your buying urges in check. You want to stop shopping and spending, but you can’t. You keep buying things you don’t need or in much bigger quantities than those needed. You know you can’t afford it, but you keep doing it.
How to control your money spending? It’s important to have a strategy. The good news is that there are a few simple things you can do to get started. One of these is getting a budgeting app to track your expenses. Here are some more:
“If it doesn’t make you feel fabulous: don’t do it, don’t buy it, don’t keep it” – lizkzook.wordpress.com
Before you buy something online, ask yourself why you’re shopping at all. How do you feel right now? How are you going to pay for the item you need? Do you really need it or do you just want it? Where will you put it when it arrives? These questions may lead you to reconsider an impulsive or compulsive buy.
To put shopping addiction behind you once and for all, think about where you want to be 5 or 10 years from now. What will you be doing? Consider whether your current way of life will get you there. Setting long-term financial goals will lead you to potentially spend less and save more.
Nobody ever regretted curbing a shopping addiction – it turned their lives into a nightmare. Putting an end to the addiction will help improve not only your financial circumstances, but also your personal, professional, and social life.
While you’re dealing with a shopping addiction, get a family member to shop for food and other basic household stuff. Always keep only a small amount of emergency cash on you to avoid impulse purchases.
It’s also a good idea to shop with people who are not compulsive spenders because they can help you limit your expenses.
Finally, finding healthy, alternative ways to spend your free time is crucial to breaking the vicious cycle of shopping online to improve your self-esteem. And…it’s still OK to reward yourself with small purchases every now and then.
In times of financial dearth, nobody wants to keep spiralling into debt, so committing to a long-term loan obligation is out of the question. If your savings have been depleted by impulse online purchases, it can take just a few hundred dollars to get by. Help is there when you need it. Check out Niftys emergency funding post.
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All you need to apply for a loan with us is regular income, to be a citizen or permanent resident of Australia, and be 18 or over. We notify applicants of our decisions as soon as possible, saving them time, worries, and – above all – money.
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