Bargains are everywhere: whether at brick-and-mortar stores or online, at clearance sales, discount outlets, on Black Friday or Cyber Monday – there are no shortage of opportunities to shop. With the Holiday season approaching, stores will see their highest revenues of the year over the next two months as consumers vie for the best deals and biggest savings on the perfect gifts for themselves and their loved ones.
But how much shopping is too much? Where should a shopper draw the line? When is it time to step away from shopping? For many, the compulsion to shop is a true addiction – one that, now more than ever, is far too easy to satisfy. Online retailers offer irresistible draw to shopaholics: in an age when a limitless array of products are available, shopping can be as simple as the click of a mouse, and purchases are conveniently delivered to the doors, shopaholics need not face the censure of society for their actions.
Many shopaholics spend beyond their means, and overdraw from savings and credit cards to fund their habit. They may even hide their purchases – and their overwhelming debt load – from their loved ones. They are unable to resist the lure of spending money in an ever-increasing search for pleasure and the dopamine rush provided by the best bargains. When people become too addicted to the chemical rewards shopping delivers, and shopping becomes a compulsion rather than merely a pleasurable pastime, then they’ve likely developed compulsive buying disorder (also known as oniomania).
If you’re addicted to the thrill of the hunt, feel compelled to buy, and you’re spending far more time and money shopping than you can afford while hiding the extent of your debts, it’s time to draw that line and seriously consider your spending habits. Several online resources and tools are available to help those addicted to shopping – the Bergen Shopping Addiction Scale rates the participant’s responses to a series of questions addressing spending. Many online support groups or therapy solutions can help the shopaholic get their spending under control; helplines such as the one offered by American Addiction Centers can help you discuss a possible addiction to shopping and some possibilities for treatment and recovery.
A first step toward controlling your compulsions may be to limit shopping excursions as much as possible – blocking shopping websites at work or home, and only entering a store with a shopping list in hand. Channel your feelings into a more productive pastime: organized sports or exercise, listening to music, reading, or developing a new hobby may leave little time for shopping in your life.