Is Overspending the Same as Compulsive Shopping?

November 18, 2009

In my post on Monday, I made the statement:- “Compulsive shopping is virtually synonymous with overspending or overshopping; so I use the terms interchangeably here.”

Yesterday, I was talking with another Financial RecoverySM counsellor, Danielle Ray, ( and she challenged this statement. Danielle said that people could overspend, unconsciously; but without the compulsion and need to shop, that characterises compulsive shoppers. She’s right and so I retract that statement!

I think that part of my “confusion” was that, as an overspender myself, whilst most of it was unconscious,( not being aware of how much money I had, nor how much I had spent) occasionally there were elements of compulsion as well. When I decided that I needed (or was that wanted? – watch for a future blog on this!)something, I could be compulsive in my pursuit of it. I would drive all over town if needbe, that very day, to purchase it. The “having to have it, and have it now” syndrome!

This has, of course, now been made so much easier for us all and, dare I say, more dangerous, with the advent of online shopping. We no longer need to put any pause between the thought and action, in this case shopping, before the transaction is complete. For this reason, I also advise my clients to use a debit card and not a credit card at all times. (I do this myself although have a CC which I use for business, but very seldom.) This means that they can still send flowers on Mother’s Day and still order tickets on the internet for concerts and movies, but all the money comes immediately out of their current account. Therefore, the shopping has to be all that more conscious, or if it isn’t, the consequences are much more immediate!

So, thank you Danielle, for making me think more clearly about this.


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