What to know about compulsive shoppers

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We all handle money differently, based on our personalities and life experiences. For some, savings can provide a sense of security; for others, spending can give pleasure. Unfortunately, for shopaholics – people who spend compulsively despite the consequences – money can be a source of pain, distress and insecurity.

“If money was scarce when you were growing up, you might have a scarcity mindset,” says Patrick Durst, certified financial planner (CFP) at LifeMark Securities Corp. in Centennial, Colorado. “You save every penny and never spend.” Maybe you could learn to have more fun if you’re over 50 or already retired and have worked hard your whole life.

Your partner, on the other hand, may be a spendthrift or spendthrift, or someone who likes the occasional extravagance. Tess Zigo, CFP at Emerge Wealth Strategies in Palm Harbor, Fla., says she and her husband are finding a good balance. She is a thrifty and her husband encourages her to spend to enjoy life now, proof that couples can compromise and solve their money problems.

The results of a study published in March in the Behavioral Addictions Diary indicate that impulse buying increased in 2020, during the first six months of the COVID-19 epidemic. The researchers also point out that compulsive shoppers “often have unmanageable debts, which create economic and emotional problems for themselves and their families.”

Like alcoholism or drug addiction, compulsive shopping can be a very serious illness, says Lamar Brabham, CEO and founder of Noel Taylor Agency, a financial services company in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. “If you or your spouse find themselves in debt without having the courage to control your spending, ask for help. You can recover. Read on to learn more.

1. A long-recognized problem

For the record, the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders does not officially classify shopping addiction as a disorder, also known as compulsive shopping disorder (CBD) or “oniomania.” However, German psychiatrist Emil Kraepelin first identified it as a problem long ago, in the early 1900s.

Many experts recognize this. A 2007 study on compulsive buying disorder published in Global Psychiatry points out that the problem is associated with mood, anxiety, substance use, eating, or other impulse control disorders. It tends to run in families with these disorders.

2. Why some buyers can’t stop

According to an article published in Frontiers in Psychology in 2016, compulsive shoppers make purchases to improve their mood, cope with stress, gain social approval or recognition, and improve their self-image. Instead, they often feel regret, remorse, shame, or guilt, and find themselves in financial difficulty and in conflict with loved ones. Despite these problems, they shop more.

In 2006, British researcher Helga Dittmar, professor of social and applied psychology at the University of Sussex, said that two factors can put people at risk: “highly materialistic values ​​and poor self-image”. Some people see hoarding stuff as a path to self-improvement.

3. Both men and women are sensitive

the Global Psychiatry review also indicates that the problem can be found across the world and affects nearly 6 percent of Americans. It’s especially prevalent during the holidays, which many people find emotionally difficult and when there’s a huge rush to shop online and in stores.

While most research has focused on women, men are also at risk. Often referred to as “collectors”, they can become addicted to auctions of tools, gadgets, technological equipment and cameras. Women tend to opt for clothing, jewelry, makeup, and homewares and crafts.

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