In the financial classes Extension has been teaching, we talk about the emotion of money and the roles it plays in whether we spend, save or share our money. Recently I saw this article from a co-worker that I thought was really interesting on “shopping” and thought it might hit home for many of us…..read through it and see what you think?
The first time we heard the term “retail therapy” coined was in 1986; a month later, the topic was expounded in a Chicago Tribune article. From that point on, it became a mainstream expression for using shopping as a tool to achieve short-term happiness or fulfillment. Popular cultural mediums such as television, (Sex in the City, The Kardashians), and movies, (Legally Blonde), showcase shopping to such an exaggerated degree that there is a fear that viewers will emulate and assimilate this behavior as normal.
Current research suggests that repeatedly using shopping to offset a negative mood or as a means to cheer oneself up may lead to a shopping addiction. Unfortunately, a shopping addiction generates not only psychological issues but financial ones as well. Americans have been encouraged to shop more and spend more for over a century as a means of stimulating the economy. We are bombarded through a variety of ways to spend, and the products advertised promise to make our lives better on a variety of levels. The issue for some people is finding balance; to decipher whether their level of shopping is normal or excessive.
Jon Grant, a professor in the University of Chicago’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, says that while many people love shopping, people who shop compulsively do it despite negative consequences, like going deep into debt. That’s because shopping addiction is not a disease of intellect; it’s a disease of emotion. The most important first step is to identify the shopping trigger—what psychological need does shopping fulfill? Boredom? Loneliness? Work or family issues? Once that need is identified, it becomes easier to find coping mechanisms. Options for coping, support, and/or diagnosis, include:
Joining 12 step programs such as Debtors Anonymous, Shoppers Anonymous, or Shopaholics Anonymous.
Staying away from triggers (malls, online sites, TV shopping channels).
Using non-shopping activities to fill the void such as reading, exercise/sports, or cooking.
Asking a family member to take over the credit cards and finances.
Seeing a therapist. Cognitive behavioral therapy encourages people to understand their actions and the long-term consequences of overspending.
Recent studies indicate that one out of twelve people are compulsive shoppers, (this includes men as well as women). If you are trying to figure out whether or not you are a shopaholic, Shopaholics Anonymous suggests that you ask yourself the following questions.
Do you shop when you feel 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 feel euphoric rushes or anxiety?
After shopping, do you feel like you have just finished doing something wild or dangerous?
After shopping, do you ever feel guilty or embarrassed about what you have done?
Do you frequently buy things that you never end up using or wearing?
Do you think about money almost all the time?
If you answer “yes” to most of these questions, you may have an addiction and might want to seek professional help.