Okay, the holidays are over and you put the credit card away, right?
If your answer is “no” and you’re still out there shopping and spending – especially if you can’t afford to – you might have a problem. You might be a “compulsive” shopper.
Good numbers on the topic are hard to come by, but a 2006 Stanford University study reports that shopping addictions impact 6% of the U.S. population, roughly 17 million people. It’s not a gender issue, either. Stanford researchers say that compulsive shopping effects men as much as it does women.
What is compulsive shopping? Mental health specialists say it’s an affliction that has people spending inappropriately, impulsively, wildly – basically out of control.
The annual holiday shopping season can be a significant trigger for compulsive shoppers. But when the calendar rolls over into January, shopping addicts can start adding up the damages, which often include high credit card bills, low bank accounts, and a major dent in their credit scores.
[Resource: Get your FREE personalized Credit Report Card.]
How do you know if you’re a compulsive shopper? Answer “yes” to any of the following five questions, and you may have a problem:
- Do you hit the malls when you are angry or upset?
- Do you feel a high or a rush of adrenalin when you’re shopping?
- Have you suffered any negative financial consequences from your shopping habits?
- Are you forced to juggle, or prioritize bills after prolonged shopping bouts?
- When you go into a store intending to buy one or two items, do you wind up buying a lot more?
If you answered, “yes” to three of these questions, it’s worthwhile to adopt a course of action. Start by putting away the credit cards and using only cash or debit cards when you shop. When you do have to go out and buy goods, make a list and stick to it. Talk to a good therapist if you can’t break the habit – hashing out the issue with a trained professional can make a big difference.
Compulsive shopping can do a great deal of damage to your psyche – and to your financial life. Take some action steps and nip that shopping problem in the bud.
Image by by ztephen, via Flickr