Is there really such a thing as a shopaholic?

We often hear the term “shopaholic” used as a joke. But did you know it is a real phenomenon?

Its real name is oniomania, originating from the Greek word ṓnios, which means “for sale”. It is also known as Compulsive Buying Disorder (CBD, a behavioural disorder that causes uncontrollable urges to buy things despite the potentially adverse consequences.

But even if you are not actually a shopaholic, it can be easy to let your shopping habits race out of control. In this article we look at warning signs to look out for, and what to do if you feel you need to get to grips with your shopping habit.


Why people shop

The problem is that everybody does need to shop to some extent. Many of the things that we need for our everyday lives need to be bought and paid for in one way or another. So, whatever happens, we are not going to be able to stop shopping altogether.

But there are reasons that can cause someone to develop an unhealthy relationship with shopping. It can often be used as a way of either running away from reality or coping with stress or negative emotions such as anxiety or low-self esteem.


How can you tell if you are becoming obsessed with shopping?

There are five warning signs that may indicate you are becoming obsessed with shopping:

You don’t use everything that you buy

Sometimes you may buy something on impulse just because you like the look of it, or because it seems like a bargain. It’s not something you actually want or need. If you have items in your home that you have bought but never used – and perhaps even forgotten about – it could indicate a shopping addiction.

You buy things even if you can’t afford to do so

Another warning sign is if you find that you are buying things that you had no intention of buying and can’t afford to buy. Even at the point of sale, you may realise that you can’t actually afford the item but you push those thoughts aside and assume that you will just work it out somehow.

A shopping obsession, and an inability to control spending, can lead to all kinds of other problems in your life.

You feel guilty after buying something

If you have overdone the shopping, you may feel guilty about it and angry with yourself afterwards. You may even go back to the store or online site to return the item for a refund. But unfortunately your negative feelings can simply reinforce some of the reasons that are driving you to overshop in the first place and it can become a vicious circle.

You try to hide your shopping habits from others

Another demonstration of guilt and negative emotions about shopping is if you try to hide the extent of your shopping from others. So if you find yourself hiding shopping bags from your partner or regularly passing off new items as something you found in your wardrobe, you may need to address your shopping addiction.

You are upset or angry you can’t buy something you really want

If you are addicted to shopping you can feel cheated if there is something you want but you can’t buy. This can lead to you applying for online loans, maxing out your credit cards, or getting swamped with debt from taking on too many Buy Now Pay Later schemes. When you are buying the item, you are not thinking about those kinds of practicalities, you just want the item. But your shopping habits will eventually catch up with you.


So what can you do if you realise your shopping is spiralling out of control?


How to deal with excessive shopping

Tackling a shopping addiction is not easy, but it can be done.

There are three key ways that you can help yourself out of this.

Do all that you can to avoid shopping

There’s the old phrase “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen”, and it may be best for a while to avoid any kind of shopping altogether. So you could consider getting groceries delivered and not going near any shops until you feel a little more in control.

If you shop online regularly then it may be time to unsubscribe from websites and mailing lists so that you are not continually tempted by sales and offers.

Once you do start shopping again you may want to try alternative sources of buying things that you really need, for example auction sites and charity shops, which can save you money. We explored this topic in our recent article How to save money as a family in 2021.

Prepare a realistic monthly budget

An invaluable tool in learning how not to overspend is having a realistic monthly budget. This enables you to understand how much you actually do have to spend. It can help you to start making more informed choices and avoid sliding further into debt. 

For more information about how to prepare a budget, take a look at our article Five ways to stay out of debt in 2021.

Always pay cash

Another tip is that when you do start shopping again, try using cash for a while instead of cards. It is very easy to overspend when all you have to do is hand over a card. But when you have cash, you can only spend what is in your wallet or purse.

So for a while, just take out in cash the amount you have budgeted to spend each week. And once it’s gone, it’s gone. It can be hard to adjust to this way of doing things but can also be an excellent way to get on top of a shopping addiction.


We hope that the above information is useful and can help you get back on track if you are beginning to struggle with a shopping addiction.

If, after trying the above, you still feel that you need some extra help in getting shopping debts sorted, then it is worth getting in touch with a professional external agency for further advice, for example:


Remember to check back here soon for more financial and lifestyle tips from Simple Fast Loans