Counseling for Spending Addiction

Ken Donaldson on shopping addiction

Shopping Addiction Impacts Everyone

We’ve heard people talk about “retail therapy” when they go out to stores or go online to buy things to feel better after a tough time. But, when you spend money to help elevate your mood, you’re not necessarily being respectful of your budget or your emotions. If you do this too often, if you use spending as a way to self-sooth to your financial detriment, consider reaching out and scheduling an appointment with me as you might be dealing with a spending addiction.

The number of bankruptcies* and the amount of debt* adding up in the U.S. provide obvious evidence of widespread spending addiction. Yet, very few people would look at spending as addictive behavior. People use terms like “shopaholic” or “retail therapy,” both of which only minimize the magnitude of the problem.

Like all other addictive behavior, if it’s done to change one’s mood and has become excessive to the point where it’s out of control and having negative consequences, then it is an addiction.

Like all other addictive behaviors, spending can be an attempt to control stress. And like all other addictive behaviors, it only ends up causing more stress.

Think you might have an issue with spending? Ask yourself if any of these apply to you:

  • Shopping when you’ve experienced a negative emotional experience
  • You feel a rush of euphoria when thinking about shopping and while you’re shopping
  • Juggling your bank accounts and bills to accommodate your shopping debts
  • Lying to family or friends about how much you spend
  • Continuing your spending habits even though they’re emotionally disturbing to you
  • You feel profound guilt and remorse after going on another shopping binge
  • Your shopping habits create conflicts with people closest to you (spouse, lover, parents, children)
  • Many of your purchases are seldom or never worn or used
  • You get more credit cards even though the cards you already have are maxed out
  • If two or more of these sound like you, now is the time to talk to someone.

The good news is that addictive spending behaviors can be reversed with two skills: Understanding the addictive component and learning alternative coping mechanisms. Learning and implementing the new coping skills is the most challenging part, and that’s where professional counseling can help. It is possible to lead a happier, more balanced and healthier life. Reach out, and let’s work together.

*There were 2,039,214 personal bankruptcies in 2015. Our collective personal debt, which excludes mortgages, reached nearly $3.6 trillion in April 2016. That’s over $11,140 in debt for every man, woman and child in the U.S.

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