The answer c9814708_san be, I believe, both.

For me, and many people like me, shopping certainly had many of the elements of addiction.

I would obsess about buying something. I would seek out opportunities to go shopping although I knew it was damaging my relationships and credit rating. I’d often have trouble stopping and would feel restless and irritable or even depressed, when I stopped or hadn’t been shopping in a while. I denied I had any problems with money and was never open about my purchases regarding price or quantity. I would also be out of control sometimes e.g. buying 2 pairs of shoes when I only needed one or none at all!! One of my clients told me of going into a shop to buy a white t-shirt and coming out a short time later with many t-shirts of assorted colors!

These are all common characteristics of addictive behaviors as described here http://www.indiana.edu/~engs/hints/addictiveb.html .

So, I now readily admit, I had a spending or shopping addiction for many years.

For me shopping was not the cure. It was merely a temporary patch or plaster over some wounds, namely my low self esteem.

Buying stuff made me feel better about myself and more worthy of others’ love and attention, in the moment.

It was temporary at best.

Many people who use shopping, or spending money, as a salve for their wounds report having feelings of remorse and even self loathing afterwards. They regret that they have again succumbed to the seduction of shopping. Their self esteem is hit again as, once more, they have broken the promise they made to themselves to stop using their credit card.

Just as alcoholics wake up the next day and regret last night and vow to, this time, never drink again, so does the shopaholic regret the shopping and vow to never do it again. They promise that they will pay off their credit cards and never use them again.

I would, secretly, make statements like that all the time and then further knock my self esteem by not keeping my promise to myself. I couldn’t be relied on, even by me.

Now what about the other part of the equation…that retail therapy is a cure?

For many people an afternoon of shopping is a very enjoyable way to spend time, either with friends, or alone. The buzz and visual stimulus of the shops and malls make them feel uplifted and brighter. It elevates their mood.

One of the questions I ask people when they start working with me is about their attitudes to shopping. If they describe shopping as a hobby it does raise a red flag for me.

Does it mean they are addicted? Not always.

However, it is worth remembering that shops and shopping malls are in business to sell stuff and make a profit. If you are spending lots of time there, the chances are you are going to spend more money than you intend and often, than you can afford.

So if, for you, the occasional outing to the shops lifts your mood and makes you happy then by all means go for it, at least occasionally. We are meant to be happy.

If, on the other hand you find yourself spending more time or money than you intended when you go shopping maybe it is time to evaluate these trips and find other less expensive hobbies or ways of making you feel better or relieve the boredom.

If you found yourself being a bit alarmed or all too agreeable, when you read the first part of this article contact me and set up a clarity/strategy call with me and we can talk about. You can schedule it here :-http://www.financialclarity.co.nz/schedule-session.html

 

You know the one… You’ve been invited to a wedding, birthday party, company dinner, or in fact just about anything… and the first words out of your mouth are…”But, I’ve got nothing to wear!”

Now, that is patently not true, because:

a) you have not spent the whole of your life in bed, naked, and hiding under the covers nor

b) walking around in public naked. This is not acceptable behaviour in most modern societies and you would probably have been arrested or taken to see a doctor!

What you really mean is: I don’t know what to wear, or, I don’t want to wear what I have, and this seems like a justifiable excuse to buy something new!

 

It is not a disaster for the following reasons:-

 

  1.  Firstly, the definition of disaster from Dictionary.com is: a calamitous event, especially one occurring suddenly and causing great loss of life, damage, or hardship, as a flood, airplane crash, or business failure. No mention of not having anything to wear!
  2. At most functions you attend, you are not the centre of attention…( unless of course, it’s your wedding)…and very few people will notice what you are wearing. (NB If it is your wedding, that is a justifiable excuse to buy something new. I am assuming that you will have been planning it for some time and have the savings to go out and buy it!)
  3. The occasion is not a fashion show …well not usually anyway…and almost always, it is about people celebrating the occasion. That means that you have been invited for your company not your clothes! Therefore, “that old thing” is probably going to be perfectly suitable.
  4. Unless you are the Queen, or Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, chances are that nobody will realise that you have worn the outfits in your wardrobe before! People are just not that observant. More importantly they are pleased to see you, not your clothes.

 

Of course, if you have planned to buy a new outfit, because you truly need it ,and not just want it, it is lovely to be able to wear something new to a special occasion. We all love that.

However, if it is not in your plan, especially if you are trying to stop overspending or reduce your debt, an invitation to an occasion does not justify buying something new to wear.  Remember it is about the people and the celebration, so “that old thing” will be just perfect.

Tell us about any creative ideas you have, that gets around this common situation.