Shopping is no longer a sign of opulence. Young adults in the initial stages of their careers are willing to spend copious amount of money to buy things of lesser utility. Their buying behavior also matters a lot. People like to purchase online because of eCommerce stores with full features that are very convenient. Also there are so many multi-vendor marketplaces where buyers can find goods of their choice easily. People in America spend trillions of dollars in retail and up to USD 1.2 trillion annually on nonessential goods.

With greater purchasing power, people have started believing the notion that shopping is therapeutic and reduces stress. What we don’t realize is that overspending can become a habit or an addiction that may need therapy. Spending beyond your means can also result in a major debt.

For some, the urge to buy is an occasional impulse and may be controlled, but for others this might as well be diagnosed as compulsive buying disorder or oniomania. People with this disorder are commonly known as shopaholics are overtly keen on buying and suffer from disruptive anxiety that can only be relieved by shopping. Note that going on a shopping spree occasionally does not imply that you are a shopping addict.

If you consider shopping as therapy and buy more than what you need and afford, watch out for these signs that are frequently seen in shopaholics:

1. Shopping Has a Bitter Aftertaste of Guilt

Shopaholics are thrilled by the idea of shopping, and often experience an adrenaline rush when they purchase something new. In medical terms, dopamine, a neurotransmitter (chemical) that controls the brain’s pleasure and reward centers is comparatively more active among shopaholics when they own a new item. This tempts them to buy certain items and enjoy the experience of purchasing them. This burst of excitement can become addictive among people.

However, this “sense of accomplishment” doesn’t last too long. The feeling of guilt surfaces soon after the purchase in most shopaholics. If you frequently feel a sense of remorse after buying items, then it is time to raise the red flag. In extreme cases, some compulsive shoppers have acclimated themselves to justify almost all purchases.

2. You Prefer Using Credit Card over Cash

In the rapidly transforming digital era, most people find it easier to go cashless. Whether it is for grocery, furniture, house or financial bonds, you can buy commodities with a single swipe of your credit/debit card. On one hand, it makes lives easier for buyers and sellers, but on the other, it can lead to overuse and overspending.

Compulsive shoppers
thrive on facilities that allow them to buy more with less effort. They often exceed the credit limits on their credit card(s) and use another to pay for the first one. This may lead to serious financial debt. With cut-throat competition in the job market and higher costs of living, a lot of people live on paycheck to paycheck. However, the story is different for shopaholics, who may be willing to overwork, just to buy an item that they’ve been wanting to buy. This never-ending process makes it difficult for them to make enough to cover expenses.

3. Too Many Options to Select From

Shopaholics often proclaim that they’ve never bought just a single item during their shopping spree. They often shop alone, find it easier to interact with salespeople, and sometimes are easily convinced by the latter to buy more things than they intend to. Shopping with a friend can be a bad idea for shopaholics, who will buy almost everything recommended by the friend.

So, when you put it together, shopaholics find that they own too many options of everything. A normal person may have one or two variations of the black dress or a suit, but shopaholics often end up with an array of unique black dresses. Having too many options of items in your wardrobe is a clear sign of spending on unnecessary shopping.

4. Difficulty in Fulfilling Financial Obligations

Another behavior displayed by shopaholics is that they will rush to the stores to buy items right after they receive their salary. If you think you’ve been treating yourself to retail goodies too often then you should consider controlling that urge. Several shoppers complain that they miss paying their credit card bills and find themselves returning unused items to the store because they realize they can’t afford them.

They compromise on paying reoccurring expenses such as rent, utilities, childcare and even food. You’re a compulsive spender if you knowingly skipped paying for any one or more of necessary these items just to purchase a desirable consumer good.

How to Control the Urge to Overspend

1. Keep Calculating Your Expenses

Several compulsive shoppers intentionally turn a blind eye to their spending habits. A lot of times, they aren’t even aware of how much they’ve been spending. Becoming conscious of each penny that you spend can be the first step to curbing your shopping urges.

Make it a habit to record your expenses every day. Observe your spending pattern and devise an alternate expense plan that helps you save more than you spend. You can even reduce the frequency of your visits to your favorite food stall, take a detour from the shopping mart, or start investing your money in the financial market. This will help you spend less on unnecessary items and reach financial stability.

2. Switch to Cash

Put your checkbook aside, far away from your reach. Keep some cash in your wallet/purse and leave your credit/debit card at home. Increase the inconvenience of spending money. This can reduce the number of times you shop.

With e-commerce stepping in, the hassle of commuting to the store has been eliminated from the shopping process. Online shopping makes it possible for shoppers to stick to their shopping list without feeling the urge to glimpse through the entire store. You may even lose track of the expenses as the products are delivered after a few days. This may help reduce the guilt of buying too many unnecessary items.

3. Consider Seeking Help

When you fear that you are suffering from a compulsive buying disorder, it is advisable that you seek help. Detection at an early stage can make it easier to beat this habit. It can be tough when you’re facing it alone. Seek support from your friends and family or consult a therapist for help.


In popular culture, the image of a compulsive shopper is a cheerful person who wanders through malls with a host of shopping bags. It discounts the psychological and financial impact that unnecessary expenses may have on the person. Overspending is a habit that can be controlled if you make a conscious effort. Imagine how rich you can be if you give yourself a dime every time you control your urge to be a spendthrift!

Author's Bio: 

This article is penned by Maria Lawson. Maria likes to write on lifestyle, business and entrepreneurship.