Most of us worry about spending too much or making impulsive purchases we regret from time to time, but compulsive buying is different from impulsive buying. 

Sack clarifies that impulsive shopping, such as purchasing a large flat-screen television that you can’t afford, often happens as an isolated incident. Despite being dissatisfied with the purchase, the buyer will probably watch television afterward. On the other hand, compulsive buying is an uncontrollable urge to buy, even when the purchase is senseless.

You can use a self-assessment to determine whether your shopping habits are problematic. Despite the difficulty in deciding if you spend too much, Sack suggests asking yourself the following questions:

  • Check your closet to see if you are buying items you are not using or wearing.
  •  Are you buying more gifts than you reasonably can afford for other people?
  • Do you spend a lot of time shopping? Shopping can seem like an unnecessary waste of time, so ask yourself if you neglect other activities that you should be doing instead, such as working or spending time with friends.
  • To what extent has shopping become a part of your life?

How to know if you’re shopping too much

  • Even when you cannot afford something, you buy it anyway.

It is normal to splurge on something you really need or want now and then, like with many symptoms. However, an average consumer can make impulse purchases without being addicted to shopping.

If you do this so often that you miss important bills or can’t pay for essentials like food and shelter because of your spending, it becomes a problem.

Many compulsive shoppers might become deeply in debt or worse because of their disregard for budgeting. The items they cannot walk away from may even need to be stolen by some shoppers addicted to shopping.

  • Your emotions influence your shopping behavior.

You might not notice shopping as a symptom because of some emotional reaction. For example, it’s normal to reward yourself after obtaining a new job or achieving a significant accomplishment. If, however, you begin shopping because you’re feeling down, you may have a problem.

Shopping is a passion for some people. The fact that you’re happy when you’re shopping does not mean that you’re addicted. However, those who wish to change their moods through retail purchases should take a step back and explore their feelings.