Could You Be a Shopaholic?

Imagine the thrill of air slapping your face as you plummet thousands of feet down towards earth, the adventure of scuba diving in a tank of hungry great whites or the excitment of handing over a credit card to purchase a new sweater.

Wait, you might be saying, that last one doesn’t seem to fit with the first two. And while most people probably don’t get their kicks by jumping from planes and swimming with sharks, shopping definitely doesn’t fit the traditional image of a walking-on-the-edge-type of lifestyle either. But for some people it provides the same type of rush more “dangerous” activities provide for others. And the danger here can be just as real. These people are “shopaholics.”

Though there are many reasons people become shopaholics, here are two common reasons people turn to shopping:

The Rush

Many shopaholics shop purely for the adrenaline rush. They become like a kid in a toy store. The people, the money, the lights and the bright displays are what give them that little sparkle in their eye. Shopping is their primary interest and source of entertainment.

The Relief

These people shop to alleviate their depression, anxiety or anger. In this case, shopping is a distraction, or a source of pleasure that will help them forget their troubles.

So how can you tell if you’re a real shopaholic? The difference between a recreational shopper and a compulsive shopper is that a shopaholic’s life revolves around shopping. Here are some symptoms that can suggest there is a problem: Using shopping as therapy to feel better and later becoming depressed about it. Frequently returning things or not taking them out of their packages. Trying to hide evidence of a shopping spree from loved ones.

Compulsive shopping is not a harmless pastime. It can ruin relationships, cause severe money problems and rule a person’s life. In the past, compulsive shopping has been dismissed as a joke, but lately serious cases have received more attention in the medical field. Even if your spending habits don’t perfectly mirror shopaholic behavior, the spending decisions you make now have a huge impact on your future.

Consider This

By blowing $100 bucks a month on shoes you don’t need, clothes you won’t wear more than once, and every new album to hit iTunes, you are throwing away the chance to be a millionaire. With $75 a month deposited in an IRA starting when you are 17, and increasing that to $200 when you’re 22, you’ll make a million by 65 (if rates continue as they are). If you wait until you’re 27, you’ll have only saved half that much! And if you haven’t changed your spending habits, you could also be thousands of dollars in debt.

So next time you see that tiger-striped cell phone cover for $29.99 that you can’t live without, think about why you’re out shopping to begin with. If you’re out there for the adrenaline rush, consider some more healthy ways to fill this need. Might I suggest the bull runs or challenging avalanches in the mountains of Alaska?

Shopping can be a fun activity, and even a necessity, but don’t get carried away. The average revolving debt (including credit cards) for young adults is $5,781, so spend wisely. Shopping is one expensive hobby you don’t need to start.

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