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Shopping Compulsion

“I love new clothes. If everyone could just wear new clothes every day, I reckon depression wouldn’t exist anymore.”

“Ok. don’t panic. Don’t panic. It’s only a VISA bill. It’s a piece of paper; a few numbers. I mean, just how scary can a few numbers be?”

-Famous lines from Confessions of Shopaholic by Sofie Kinsella .These lines also depict the mindset of a shopaholic person, what he/she feels and fearsJ .

The term Shopaholic is implicitly attached with women but Men cannot deny the fact that even their gender too suffers or overjoys from this tendency! Though, there is not enough data, things have changed a lot since online shopping has successfully taken off – with more and more men turning into impulse buyers.

Hence, I was thinking of writing this article for a long time. This is for us; ’us’ also includes me!

You have a pile of clothes and just got a new wardrobe for the new set of clothes you purchased last week, and here you go to a shop to accompany your friend and there waits a dress just for you. You had been thinking that you have outgrown the dresses at home, but this dress invites you to try it and promises to be a better fit. First you think ‘Okay enough! I just did shopping last week and I have come to accompany my friend.’ After some time you think ‘What if this dress is purchased by someone and I don’t get my one and only perfect dress? ’. Such random thoughts flow in and after a great battle in the mind, dress smiles and you buy!

How many of us have experienced the above incident at least once in our life?

Sometimes, after shopping the feeling of guilt is intense. And after some time, we try to justify ourselves or sometimes we just give up and decide this is the one lasttime. Time passes by and we forget the incident. And next time when you are out – who knows-another apparel may just invite you!J This phenomenon repeats for shopaholics every now and then.

Let’s look at the causes for impulse buying or shopping. The reasons vary from person to person. There are different types of shoppers such as

  • People who do shopping to overcome boredom and to connect to the world

  • People dealing with emotional distress and see shopping as a channel for unwinding

  • People who buy just because it’s on sale irrespective of whether they want it or not

  • People who buy out of peer pressure in society

  • People who shop for a perfect item always

  • People who shop as a reaction to anger or fear or disappointment.

For shopaholics, shopping is like an itching on the body which has to be scratched right at that moment. Once they pass that period then yearning stops until the next itching!J Women do shopping more to experience a higher self-esteem, handle peer pressure and for the excitement that they get out of shopping.

There is a psychological term for excess shopaholics: Compulsive Buying Disorder or Oniomania. There is a very thin line between normal shopaholics and people with Compulsive Buying Disorders. Here is how we can see a danger signal with signs as below:

  • Spending more than they can afford

  • Harming relationships for shopping

  • Telling lies about the money they spent

  • Shopping as a way to feel less guilty about previous shopping spree

  • Having a closet full of unused apparels yet buying similar new ones.

Shopaholics suffer an emotional drain after shopping when they become addicted to shopping. They feel on top of the world after a purchase and then sink to the bottom with the guilt when the high wears off. Like any other addicts, it’s very difficult for shopaholics and they become restless if they don’t shop for a long time. Shopaholics do not distinguish between Needs and Wants. Though it’s not as serious as other addicts, it may cost some financial distress, and relationships may be at stake. In today’s world of credit cards, most of the time such people while trying to pay off credit card bills of the previous month end up in spending equal or more with the other card. So it’s a never ending vicious circle!

As everyone aspires to be financially independent these days, we also should aspire to have a saving and investment plan for ourselves. These can be short term plans and long term plans for the goals that we have in our lives. Short term goal can be for buying the stuff that you always wanted, but could not buy due to financial considerations! An example of long term plan can be buying a dream house, exotic foreign vacation, retirement and kids’ education/marriage. These goals will help us to reconsider our shopping habits and make the right decision.

As someone rightly said these 6 questions may help us make the right choice in our buying habits:

  • Why am I here?

  • How do I feel?

  • Do I need this?

  • What if I wait?

  • How will I pay for it?

  • Where will I put it?

Once we get the suitable answers to all the above questions we will be more decisive about shopping for any product. It is easier said than done. We have to practise these for every shopping session and try to beat the obsession of shopping!

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