Some people find it much harder than others to resist the impulse to pick up something shiny and new. While buying things spontaneously now and then is perfectly normal, it becomes more pressing when you’re maxing out credit cards and running out of cash. If this sounds like you, you may have a shopping addiction.
Whether you know you’re an addict or someone who struggles with their whims, these methods could help you strengthen your resolve against your impulses. Here are six tips for dealing with a shopping addiction.
The Science Behind a Shopping Addiction
While shopping addictions aren’t currently listed as a mental health disorder, something is still happening in the brain. Ruth Engs from Indiana University says some people get addicted to the endorphins and dopamine the mind releases while shopping. You may even be more likely to develop this kind of addiction – 10-15% of people are predisposed to this problem.
There are also a few ways this can manifest. Some shopping addicts buy something simply because it’s cheap, even if they don’t need it. Others might feel they need to complete a set or keep spending until they find the perfect item. Certain shoppers might just like the image of being able to buy whatever they want when they can’t afford it in reality. Many people buy things when they need a pick-me-up, but doing it every time could become a problem.
Instead of physical, the symptoms of a shopping addiction tend to be emotional. You could find yourself hiding receipts, lying about how much you’re spending, or buying more than you’re financially able to. Shopping addicts can also find themselves at the store whenever they’re sad or angry. This often leads to losing control of the addiction and ruining relationships because of it.
If you think you may be struggling with these problems, you’re not alone. Approximately 18 million Americans have a shopping addiction, confining themselves in debt and unnecessary stress. Addiction and impulse-control struggles are nothing to be ashamed of, but it is something you have to manage. Therapy and coping strategies may help you deal with your struggles.
Ways to Deal With Shopping Addictions
If you need to learn methods to overcome your shopping addiction, try out a few of the tips here. While you should speak with a professional to receive treatment, these strategies could help you keep impulses under control.
1. Set Achievable Goals
When you’re first starting to rein yourself in, begin with a few objectives. You could start with the goal of spending a smaller amount than usual. Work this down until you can establish a weekend or a few days where you won’t buy anything. There may be some necessary purchases, but factor these into your plans.
Ensure you set smaller targets when you’re starting. Creating ones too far out of your reach can make you feel distressed or like you’ll never fix your addiction, leading you to spiral. By figuring out goals you can raise as you go, you might find more satisfaction with your achievements.
2. Track Your Bills
Keeping an eye on how much you’re spending each month can help you set a manageable budget. Once you gather your credit card bills and monthly bank statements, you’ll better grasp what you’re paying for so often. Even if you make a lot of small purchases, those can add up quickly depending on how many you’re buying each week or day.
Chances are, most of these charges are unnecessary. Along with setting goals for how much to spend in a month, make it a rule to go over your statements each time you get them. Then, you can reassess what you’ve been buying and rule out what you don’t need.
3. Pay With Cash
If you’re dealing with a shopping addiction, it could be helpful to start paying for more things with cash instead of a credit or debit card. Those bits of plastic are very easy to pull out of your pocket. Digital wallets on your phone have made it so much easier to spend as well, leaving you racking up debt while it didn’t feel like you were purchasing anything.
This isn’t just speculation – your brain gets excited when you buy things with credit cards. To curb this, using more tangible money might help you fight the urge to spend. Because it feels real and you have a limit, you could have fewer temptations or buy less on impulse.
4. Find a Hobby
Certain emotions might make you feel like you need to shop. Feeling mad, lonely, or anxious can cause you to head for brick-and-mortar or online stores. When these experiences make you want to spend money, try turning to a hobby instead. These can give you the same sense of satisfaction without the consequences of overshopping.
While nearly every hobby will require you to spend money, you’ll buy a lot less than when shopping was your go-to activity. Crafts like knitting, writing, or embroidery need a few supplies, but they won’t set you back excessively.
5. Unsubscribe From Promotional Emails
One of the biggest sources of temptation are the promotional emails companies send you. Maybe a new line from your favorite retailer just dropped, or they’re having a huge clearance sale. An extra 20% off might be all you need to start reaching for your wallet. However, remember that you can live without what you might have bought.
Take yourself off these email lists. Whether you’re a bargain hunter or need to find the perfect thing, unsubscribing could help you avoid the temptation of spending. Out of sight, out of mind – you won’t be jumping for the newest and cheapest things when you don’t know about them.
6. Block Websites on Your Browser
As an ultimate refusal to buy, try blocking the shops you usually buy from on the internet browser you use. This way, you won’t be able to access the website even if you feel yourself having a little slip. These moments are absolutely normal, and the blocked site can be a reminder of your commitment not to spend unnecessarily.
If you’re buying more at physical stores, try changing your routine. Do you pass it on your way home and always feel the need to stop? Take a different route and see if the feeling lessens. As with the previous tip, being out of your line of sight could keep the temptation out of your mind or at least make it easier to combat.
Fight Your Shopping Addition
A shopping addiction is a tough thing to deal with. Along with these strategies, consider speaking with a mental health professional. They can help you address why you have the urge to spend and could give you even more beneficial methods and insights.
Start fighting your shopping addiction and get your life back on your terms. You’re stronger than you realize and can do whatever you set your mind to.