The rise of the digital age has led to so many benefits and solutions to everyday problems but has simultaneously led to a certain downfall for many of us. Spending money has never been so easy and the rise of the internet and online shopping has brought with it the infamous 'shopping addiction'.
People constantly joke about their shopping addictions and their need for a little retail therapy after a bad day. Sadly though, the reality is that being a shopaholic is not as simple as it may have seemed when portrayed by the media and comes with emotional and mental side effects like sadness and even anger. Notably, the cult film Confessions of a Shopaholic led many to have a slightly skewed view of the issue, not quite realising how much it romanticised such a serious problem. Now, don’t get us wrong – we have no personal issue with the misapplication of a 'shopaholic' or exaggerating your love for Topshop by referring to your so called 'shopping addiction', but what we do believe is that while we are thoughtlessly throwing these phrases around we should also attempt to understand what it means, and what truly constitutes as a shopping addiction. Something that is increasingly destroying lives with little sympathy or understanding from the general populous.
A shopping addiction just like any other addiction is a compulsive need to shop, also known as compulsive buying disorder. Usually the most obvious way to identify a shopping addiction is when it starts to hinder your ability to function normally in day to day life. Are you spending more than you can afford? Is it negatively impacting your relationships? There are lots of different identifiers depending on what degree you find yourself. Whether it is a habit you are struggling to curb or something so serious you are totally unable to function, just appreciate there is a spectrum of extremity.
However no matter where you sit on the spectrum, there are a ton of tips that can help anyone struggling with their shopping addiction, whether it’s simply because you want to spend a little less or because it has developed into a serious issue. Before you go into a state of panic and start recreating the recovery scenes from said movie, try out a few of these helpful tips to help you manage your shopping addiction.
How to manage your shopping addiction
1. Pay in cash
With the introduction of contactless cards, it's so much easier now to spend your money away with a few taps.The general issue is that you lose the understanding of the value of money when it’s digital. Try to pay in cash to avoid compulsive spending – this gives you a more visual and better understanding of how much cash is flowing out of your wallet per day. You'll develop a greater appreciation for the value of your spending when you physically hand over the cash rather than a tap.
2. Track your spending
This is closely linked to the tip above but even so, try writing a note of what you spend and when, that way you don’t lose sight of what you’re spending and it’s therefore easier to understand and control your spending habits.
3. Go without any method of payment
Some of us simply need the rush of going into a store and window shopping which for most of us generally just turns into regular shopping. If you take no method of payment though you can’t break your promise of a zero purchase trip. Furthermore, if you like something and still want it next time, you’ll have genuine time to think about it, consider it and then make your purchase.
4. Wait 20 minutes before buying
If you leave time between scouting out a product and purchasing it you have time to think it through rather than letting yourself fall into the trap of another impulse buy. Whether you decide to wait 20 minutes, leave the store and come back another day entirely or add it to your wishlist is entirely up to you. The principle of waiting and reducing the occurrence of impulse purchases has proven effective for many, so don’t be afraid to tell yourself 'no'… at least for now.
5. Don't rely on credit cards
Many people succumb to the temptation of credit cards – racking up huge amounts of debt, out of sight out of mind, right? Stick to cash and debit cards instead.
6. Help a friend shop for themselves
Some of us just need that rush of a purchase and the experience of shopping itself. When trying to curb this bad habit or addiction, try shopping with friends without any money for yourself, you may get the satisfaction you need from watching them purchase.
7. Unsubscribe from all promotional emails
This may seem obvious but it's a tip that is easily ignored. When fighting your cravings to shop, the last thing you need is an email from one of your favourite brands telling you that you NEED the new Fall jacket fashion editors are going crazy for.
8. Block internet access to the shopping sites
This may be one for the extremes. As we stated one of the most common causes and issue for shopaholics is the ease of access on the internet. Block all the shopping sites you have a sweet spot for so you can’t even tempt yourself. This doesn’t need to be a permanent situation, but set yourself a time period, maybe let yourself unblock them only for purchases you really need.
9. Delete shopping apps on your phone
By deleting apps you won’t be tempted to browse through during your commutes, for example. The longer a purchase takes the more time you have to think it through and reduce impulse buys.
10. Replace your shopping addiction with something healthier
You may find that you suddenly feel a void in your life when the time you spent shopping is now empty, potentially encouraging a relapse. So here’s a solution, take up a new hobby, do something that benefits you or others. Take up something that will keep you busy and have keep you motivated. You'll feel better for it in the long run and you'll finally break the cycle of overspending without thought.
Finally, remember there is no shame in struggling. If these tips don’t do it for you and you need more help, consult professional help or reach out to someone you trust. Shopping is meant to be fun so don't let it control your life.
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