Controlling Your Shopping Addiction This Holiday
The winter months are brimming with sales, ‘special offers’, and highly targeted marketing advertisements on practically every platform imaginable.
The pressure to succumb to your shopping addiction and spend money you don’t have may increase exponentially throughout the holiday season as you pass signs of ‘50% off’ and ‘Two for One,’ in the windows of every brick-and-mortar shop.
If you find that your eye starts twitching when you receive a ‘Cyber Monday’ email today claiming ‘30% off sitewide,’ or you feel minor heart palpitations at the thought of Christmas shopping, then you might need to take some time for the duration of this article to let yourself breathe and regroup.
We’re here to tell you that despite what your friends, family, or TV ads might tell you, you don’t need to participate in Holiday sales. There are ways to manage your shopping addiction during the holiday season.
Do I have a shopping addiction?
A shopping addiction is defined as compulsive shopping paired with the feelings of lack of control.
How do you know if you have a shopping addiction? (Questions taken from Psych Guides)
- Do you shop when you’re feeling angry or disappointed?
- Has overspending created problems in your life?
- Do you have conflicts with loved ones about your need to shop?
- While shopping, do you have feelings of euphoria or anxiety?
- After shopping, do you feel like you’ve just finished doing something wild or dangerous?
- After shopping, do you feel guilty or embarrassed about what you’ve done?
- Do you buy things that you never end up using or wearing?
- Do you think about money almost all the time?
If you answered ‘yes’ to two or more of these questions, then you might have a shopping addiction.
The different types of shopping addictions…
- “The Compulsive Shopper” : The compulsive shopper runs on emotion. He/She shops for the euphoric high when angry, distressed, sad, or any other dominant emotion.
- “The Trophy Shopper” : The trophy shopper will shop and shop until they find the perfect item, constantly one-upping themselves but never feeling ‘content’.
- “The Image Shopper” : The image shopper is preoccupied with how everything they purchase looks to everyone around them. They love flashy and obvious purchases.
- “The Bargain Seeker” : The bargain seekers cannot pass up a sale. They are mesmerized by discounts and find themselves purchasing items they don’t need just because they’re on sale.
- “The Bulimic Shopper” : The bulimic shopper is stuck in a vicious cycle of purchase and return. They buy items they don’t need, return them shortly later, and then purchase more items only to return them later.
- “The Collector” : The collector does not feel fully whole unless they have one item in each color or every part of a set of items.
These are not labels per say, but these different types of shopping addictions stand as a foundation for relatability.
If we take an honest inventory of our behavior over, let’s say, the last five years, it is inevitable that we would fall into any of these categories at least once.
However, if you find that you fall one category specifically, and it affects your day-to-day functioning, you may have a shopping addiction.
Confessions of a Shopaholic is not a realistic depiction of a Shopping Addiction…
There are certain aspects of the Hollywood flick that are similar to a real-life shopping addiction: the maxed credit cards, swimming in debt, uncontrollable urges to make a purchase, the justification of why you need said purchase, and the evasion of consequences.
There have been only a handful of pop culture references to shopping addiction, nearly undermining the severity of the disease.
Just as with substance abuse and any other addiction, the scale is different for every individual; no two stories are going to mirror one another.
Whether you have lost everything to your shopping addiction and struggle to pay for necessities, or you have somehow managed to keep everything and deter others from asking questions, you may still have a problem.
How to manage your shopping addiction this Holiday Season
Find a therapist who specializes in addictions and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). A combination of therapy and community support is a surefire way to beat any addiction.
Don’t know where to start? Check out PsychologyToday.com to find a therapist in your area.
Remember that holidays are to marketers as mud is to a pig. The holidays are prime time for marketers; every sappy commercial, hilarious punch line, discount card, and attractive advertisement is solely to persuade the public to purchase their product. Companies spend the big bucks during this time of year to push for those last monetary goals, and they have no qualms about telling people to buy things they don’t actually need.
Use cash or debit to make purchases, leave your credit cards at home. Better yet, take scissors to plastic. When you use solely debit and cash to make purchases, you are spending within your means. Just because your credit card limit says you have $5,000, does not mean those $5,000 are actually yours. They are borrowed and you always have to pay them back.
Despite the marketed ‘perks,’ credit cards will do you no good if you use them without a strategy. We recommend incorporating a financial strategist before opening up any lines of credit (a financial strategist is not a friend who gives you a suggestion, they are experienced and have a working knowledge of the in’s and out’s of finances).
If you have to go grocery shopping, or pick up toiletries, bring your ATM card and leave your credit card at home… In the trash… Cut into little fragments.
If you find the need to “window shop” only do so after hours. If you absolutely cannot go this season without window shopping the ‘latest trends’ or the ‘coolest gadgets,’ go after hours. Browse the windows of closed shops to get a feel for what’s out there.
Avoid going Christmas shopping alone; grab an honest friend to keep your spending in check. Present shopping during the holidays is inevitable. Avoid shopping alone; bring a friend with you and ask them to keep your spending in check. This is not a sign of weakness, it simply means that you know yourself well enough to know what you need this holiday.
8 things you can do instead of shopping this holiday
- Launch your Pandora Radio and select the ‘Christmas’ station. Christmas music is soothing and very spirited.
- Hand make Christmas cards for your friends and family from materials you have around your home.
- Go caroling around your neighborhood with a group of talented (or not so talented) friends.
- Dust off your old Christmas movies and pop one in your DVD player. If you don’t have a DVD player, ask your friend for their Netflix password and watch a Christmas movie on Netflix.
- Make this or something similar with snacks in your pantry.
- Take on the challenge of making your own Christmas tree ornaments with unique and unexpected items around your house.
- Deck your house with paper snowflakes, Elf
- Cruise your neighborhood or a well-known neighborhood to check out the Christmas lights