Life is best lived in moderation, as too much of a good thing will merely lead to addiction and hardship for some people. In the case of compulsive shopping, there is even a dedicated term for that addiction: oniomania. The closest comparison would have to be gambling addiction, which is also centered on the need for gratification by spending money.
A shopaholic is an affectionate term for those of us who can hold back from making purchases that will have negative consequences. Compulsive shoppers quickly lose interest in their purchases, instead leaving them in their cupboards to gather dust. According to Dr Hindie Klein, people afflicted with a shopping addiction typically buy things they can’t afford, or they spend whenever they feel unhappy, or feel incredibly upset when they are prevented from making a purchase.
In contrast, being a shopaholic is fun because you follow the latest trends and have a genuine interest in fashion, cosmetics, and jewelry. Hunting for a great deal on a pair of designer shoes will never feel like anything less than a coup. Most importantly, though, a shopaholic will cherish their purchases and wear them proudly on their next night out. Now, let’s look at some advice for being a smart shopaholic.
Understand Your Finances
Knowing your finances intimately is the key to ensuring that you know exactly how much money you have to spend. And let’s be honest, your finances will not be as complicated as those of a million-dollar business.
Simply add up your monthly spending, making estimates where required, and compare this amount to your monthly earnings. The difference in those values is how much you have to spend on fun things.
You have to draw the line here, and forget about the idea of using credit cards. These simply let you spend money that you do not have. Plus, you will only end up spending more than you would with your own money. For instance, a $100 dress could easily end up costing $200 if you put off the repayments. In other words, you need to know where your money is going.
Set a Budget
Now that you understand your finances, you can set a budget for your next shopping trip with friends. Remember, you don’t have to allocate the entirety of your monthly earnings surplus to the budget. Limit yourself to an amount you can afford to spend.
Also, don’t feel like you have to spend the entire budget. You can hold some of it back and contribute it to your budget for the next month. After a few months, you might even be able to afford something really special for your wardrobe. A little patience can be difficult but oh so rewarding. If you don’t know where to start, check my budgeting tool.
Be Wary of Online Shopping
Annual e-commerce sales are now worth more than $200 billion in the US. Online shopping is going to be the biggest risk for many shopaholics in attempting to control their purchasing habits. Being able to access websites in a split-second can prove irresistible for many.
In the event that you find yourself browsing shopping sites at every opportunity, it’s time to take action. Cancel any unnecessary credit cards and start to refuse credit increases on those that you choose to keep. Credit cards make it too easy to purchase. Also, don’t be afraid to cancel shopping accounts.
Control is the key to being a smart shopaholic, and it all starts with managing your finances intelligently. You don’t need to be an accountant to write down your basic spending.
Lastly, make sure to monitor for signs of trouble. Most importantly, this will be a consistent dependence on shopping to improve your mood. Don’t hesitate to seek out professional help if you’re losing control. The consequences will be much worse if you don’t.