Shopping Addiction: How To Overcome It

Do you shop for stuff you don't need and then feel guilty over the mounting bills? To top it all, you have no control over this! Find out what happens when you're a shopaholic and how you can recover.

By Aditi Sheoran Chhajta

Shopping Addiction: How To Overcome It
Do you regret that shopping binge? 

Initially, shopping starts off as a pastime, to be indulged in on a need-to basis. Be it apparel or accessories for your own self, things for the home or toys and clothes for your kids — we shop when necessary. 

However, over time, some start loving the 'high' of buying new stuff so much so that, they don't realise that shopping is not just a hobby but has become a compulsive habit. And over which they have no control at all. A 'shopaholic' may buy things without any real need for those products. This is fine so long as they can afford those purchases. But then there are folks who can’t really afford to splurge but the compulsion to buy is so strong that they kick their credit card into use.

This is when things go out of control and ‘the person in question’ (I sheepishly raise my hand too) starts to either accumulate debt or unnecessary products, that they have neither any use for nor space to store. This is a good time for them to introspect on the real reasons why they buy products without any reason and figure out how to save money

So, here is a curtain raiser on the deeper issues that underpin shopaholism and what a relief it is to keep the act of ‘compulsive buying’ in check. 

Common emotions of a shopaholic:

Regret: The topmost feeling after having spent a huge sum of money on something you didn’t really need. Meaning you, the buyer, are left with a sense of regret. This could be coupled with the gnawing feeling of “Here I go again!” The feeling of regret is on two fronts — that you lost control of your wallet and that you lack control over that compulsive urge to shop.

Anxiety: Then comes the best buddy of regret, that is ‘anxiety’. After having realised the futility of shopping, you the buyer, may fear telling others (family or friends) about having overspent again. No one wants to be judged for their actions. Hence, over time, a compulsive shopper may start hiding their purchases, further adding to the guilt and regret of spending.

Fear of missing out (FOMO): This is sometimes the reason why you buy and end up hoarding stuff that doesn’t really get used. This feeling of always having all the possible options available for use can be really demanding. It can make you feel drained — after spending so much time, effort and money on worthless purchases that really don’t suit you. And which you really don't need, either.

Feeling overwhelmed: Despite having shopped enough, you may feel you don't have anything to wear — although there's a mountain of clothes in the wardrobe! Dealing with this contradiction is an endless vicious cycle for the shopaholic. Imagine living in this sort of world! Sounds daunting, doesn’t it? To a shopaholic, there may seem no solution in sight, except to shop more and get temporary relief. And thus, the cycle continues.

Those familiar with the ‘Less is More’ movement/philosophy (throwing everything out and keeping just what you need), will agree that de-cluttering one’s life and following minimalism can set our souls free. It is way better to have fewer but useful things, than a whole lot of useless stuff! And that sums up an entire shopaholic de-addiction programme.

So, here are some tips on minimal shopping:

  1. First things first. Prepare a list of things to buy and if you feel the urge to buy something, first check if it is on the list and only then, proceed.
  2. Restrict outings that take you to places with shops, where you may indulge in impulse-buying.
  3. Restrict the frequency of shopping. Make a monthly or weekly schedule to shop essentials or groceries. Stick to it, no matter what.
  4. Separate your needs and wants. Buy only what you need. Learn to say ‘No’. Over time abstaining from buying that attractive bag or pair of shoes will become easier.
  5. Set aside a sum of money you plan to spend each month, keep a budget and review your shopping score each week. The next step then would be to shift your focus from ‘not spending’ to saving money for something better.
  6. Set rules for yourself like ‘I won't buy something unless I need to start using it that very month’ or ‘I won't buy something if I already have something similar’ or ‘I will keep only five pairs of trousers. And until one wears out, I will not buy more’.
  7. Reward yourself with experiences other than shopping, for each month that you have followed the rules set to curb your shopaholism. It could be a dinner date, a day out with friends, a picnic, a massage or just about any activity you enjoy, other than shopping. Over time, you may enjoy these 'substitutes' so much that you learn how to better cope with the dreaded emotional cycle that is a side-effect of too much shopping.
  8. Unsubscribe to retailer emails.
  9. Take someone along when you shop, someone who knows your needs and wants, and can show you the mirror when you are faltering.

Learning to curb the shopaholic in you, means embracing a simpler and more balanced approach. Trust us, you may find yourself happier and enriched, in more ways than one! For that matter, you won't just have more money and time on your hands, you will also start valuing what you already possess.

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