I can admit, sometimes I love a good splurge. Especially, when it is on sale! I get so excited when I see a great deal; like a new pair of pumps that normally would cost $100 that I got for half the price. I feel like I just spent the wheel on Wheel of Fortune and I hit the jackpot! It is the best feeling scoring a bargain! But, for others, it becomes a huge rush that takes over their bodies. A high that we can’t describe that slowly becomes an addiction. We buy things that we normally do not need for a high that only lasts a few seconds. Once that high is over, the cycle repeats itself.
“Compulsive shopping and spending is described as a pattern of chronic, repetitive purchasing that becomes difficult to stop and ultimately results in harmful consequences. It is defined as an impulse control disorder and has features similar to other addictive disorders without involving the use of an intoxicating drug.” –
American Psychiatric Association
I was talking with my best friend, and we have been friends since the 3rd grade. We then started to have a deep conversation on our different spending habits. She shared with me that she spends money because it is a high that she can’t describe. It makes her feel so good in that moment; but then a few hours later, her buyer’s remorse sets in.
I asked her if she always had a spending addiction and she told me that it stems from her child hood. She explained her dad would just give her his credit card without setting any boundaries for her.
She also said during her teenage years, her mom would allow her to put anything on the counter for the cashier to ring up whenever she would go to any store (she was lucky because my mama would of given me the death stare and I would know to put it back).
When she entered into adulthood where she was on her own, she had no concept of how to manage her money. She would spend money on the credit card without the slightest idea of how she would pay it back, and sometimes forgetting that one day the bill would come due. She thought having a credit card meant unlimited spending power. Spending then became her way to cope with stress and her emotions.
What causes spending addictions?
She eventually went to a counselor to try to figure out why she spent money to deal with her emotions because her spending was getting out of control. There she realized that this is common issue amongst Americans and there are actually people who even hide their purchases from their partner.
According to her counselor, she mentioned to my BFF that when she would spend money on her purchases, her brain would release endorphins and dopamine, and over time, those feelings caused the high which becomes addictive.
My sister joined in on the conversation and she shared with us that if she didn’t spend money in a day, her day wasn’t complete. She would spend money every day to get her satisfaction which is a another sign of a spending addiction. When she felt that her emotions were getting the best of her, her happiness was found by spending money. Spending addictions are real and they can come in all sorts.
Even my nana (my grandmother)who is very frugal with her money, would purchase many small dollar items on the clearance rack even though she would never use them. The great thing about this addiction, as long as you can identify the cause of your spending, there is hope.
Is there a way to stop?
My BFF recommends DEFINITELY talking about the problem and find out what causes you to spend. She doesn’t recommend bottling in the problem, especially when you’re in a committed relationship. You do not want to hurt your relationship when money and an addiction is involved.
Her counselor recommended creating a realistic budget by writing down a list of what she really wanted and if it wasn’t on the list, the rule was she couldn’t buy it. This is one of the many forms that you can do to try to stop this habit.
My favorite thing that I like to do is to let it marinate in my head for a day or two to see if I really want those new pair of shoes or that brand new lipstick that just came out. Some like to use the term “sleep on it”. Sometimes I find when I sleep on it, I realize that I do not need or want that item as bad as I thought I did. Allowing myself to think and marinate on a purchase saves me a bunch of money for not buying things I don’t really need.
I also encourage if you have a spouse, that if a transaction is over a certain agreed upon price point, you would talk about before the purchase. For example, if my husband is going to purchase something over $75.00 or vice versa, we would talk to see if it’s cool and if it’s in the budget. This creates a healthy relationship involving money. Not only that, it gives a second opinion if what we would be purchasing is even necessary or needed.
I know that it can be so difficult to change this behavior, especially when you’ve been doing it for so long, but there is hope and you can change. Redirect your energy into things that can find you joy or focus on a creative outlet like a side hustle that brings in that extra stash instead of spending that extra cash.
It comes down to honesty with yourself. How badly do you want to stop the spending? Overcoming something so serious like a spending addiction is so powerful especially when it comes to your money. You have to identify your triggers and learn how to manage them, and if you have a serious problem, I recommend seeking professional help. Much success to you if you want to take this road, you’re on the road to new beginnings.
Written by Brittany