woman stressed after compulsive spending online

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Do you have a problem with compulsive shopping? Do you find yourself buying things you don't need, or spending more money than you intended? If so, you're not alone. Compulsive buying behavior is a common problem, and it can be difficult to stop. We will discuss the signs of compulsive shopping and provide tips for overcoming compulsive buying behavior.

woman feeling empowered after taking control of her compulsive shopping habits

Are You A Compulsive Shopper?

Like most addictions, denial about behaviors can be the first sign that something is wrong. Do you find yourself getting defensive over your spending habits? Do you try to hide your purchases? If any of the next seven points describe your life, then you might have a compulsive shopping problem. Don't worry! I have tips to help you overcome it as well.

1.     Money Burns a Hole in Your Pocket

Anytime you have money, whether it's payday, birthday gift, bonus, etc., there is a desire to spend it all. After all of your bills are paid, if there is any money left, you find a reason to spend it. It may seem like all of those sales emails and the clearance sections at your favorite store are just for you.

money burning a hole in your pocket

2.     Credit Cards Support Your Compulsive Shopping Behavior

Despite having spent all of your money for the week or month, you will still keep spending with your credit card. I’m sure this habit has caused you to have a ton of credit card debt. In fact, you might be relying on your credit card because the majority of your money is going towards credit card bills each month. How has this been working out for you? For tips on saving money vs. paying off debt, click here.

3.     Compulsive Shopping is Closely Related to Your Emotions

You find comfort when you shop, and this has become your outlet to deal with stress, anxiety, or sadness. Something about hitting the “checkout” or “purchase now” button makes you feel like a weight is lifted off your shoulders.

4.     Your Mind Says Stop, But You Can't Stop Impulsively Shopping

You have tried everything to stop shopping, but it seems like you have no control. Your mind might be telling you to stop, but there is another voice telling you to shop. Compulsive shopping behaviors are closely tied to your emotional and mental health.

girl holding empty piggy bank and shopping packages

5.     Compulsive Shopping has Ruined Your Relationships.

Has your shopping caused tension in your household? Maybe your spouse has asked you to cut back, or you both have set a financial goal that requires you to control your spending. However, you can’t stop and then you start to lie and hide the items you buy which is causing distrust in your partnership.

Another way compulsive shopping ruins your relationships is because you have no money to pay for extra-curricular activities or travel. As single moms, we try to give our kids the world. If we are compulsively shopping, though, we won't have money left over for the experiences that really matter.

You may have compulsive spending behavior if any of the signs above resonate with you.

7 Strategies to Help You Stop Compulsively Shopping

If you saw yourself in the points above, then you might have an issue with compulsive shopping, especially online. Don't fret, though. You are not alone. And you are capable of overcoming your compulsive shopping habits. Here are 7 strategies to get you started.

Commit to controlling yourself.

What was the last thing you committed to, other than shopping? Maybe it was a relationship, an exercise plan, carpool, etc. You can do the same with your compulsive buying behavior, except this time write out the commitment, and sign it. Be realistic and give yourself an allowance you can spend on shopping because you don’t need to completely restrict yourself. The longer you can stick to your commitment, the more confidence you will have. More confidence translates to healthier relationships with yourself and others.

Take all Your Credit Cards out of Your Wallet or Purse.

Cash will become your best friend. It’s too easy to swipe for purchases, but when you only have a set amount of cash to spend you will be more conscientious of your spending. When you complete your monthly budget, set out how much you can spend on shopping. Take that amount of cash out of the bank, and once you spend it you cannot spend anymore. Yikes, huh?! I believe in you; YOU CAN DO IT! Not having a credit card accessible can make some people anxious, I can totally understand that. If you want to have a backup in case of any emergency ONLY, then keep one credit card with you.

One of my favorite techniques to limit credit card use is to freeze them in a block of ice. This way you have to really want or need something before you can access the card. Sometimes just having a distraction or obstacle in your way will help the impulse pass.

woman shopping online with credit card

Reflect on Your Compulsive Shopping Habits

When was the last time you sat down to understand why you compulsively spend? Was there an event in your life that started this habit? How does it make you feel after you have compulsively shopped? Does anyone else in your life shop this way? Do you want to no longer spend your money this way? Taking the time to question your behaviors and think about what’s most important to you can be the driving force to get a negative habit under control. If money struggles are causing you stress and damaging important relationships it’s time to ask yourself, “what’s more important?”

Track Your Spending

When most people start tracking their spending, they are usually surprised by how much they frivolously spend. $20 on a shirt, $10 on lunch, $100 on the clearance sale, $37 on cool items on Amazon, all add up quickly. Until you take the time to write down every cent you spend, you will keep telling yourself you are not spending a lot. Do me a favor and do it! Then make note of how you feel after you see where all of your money is spent. Let that feeling be a reminder every time you get the urge to shop for things you don’t need.

Do an Inventory of Items You Have

Go through your closets and house to find clothes with tags, gently used clothing, kitchen gadgets, extra tools, shoes, etc. Any items you may not like anymore or never really like it, but you bought because it was on sale or it was one of those days you were doing retail therapy, sell it! Put these items on Facebook marketplace, online garage sale, local consignment shops or thrift store. Use that money from selling those things to pay off debt. You are getting rid of excess stuff and excess debt.

woman stressed by credit card bills after compulsive spending

Did Your Impulse Buy Bring You Happiness?  

Ask yourself: Do I feel happy after I spend my hard-earned money on stuff? If so, how long does the happiness last? Would I prefer to have something else like friendship, better health, a romantic partner, less chaotic life, etc.? Recognizing things do not truly bring you happiness, and may be filling a temporary void for something you truly want, can help slow down compulsive buys.


When you start tracking your spending and associated emotional patterns, you will begin to notice patterns. Reflect on how compulsive shopping makes you feel as well as the relationships it's costing you, or financial goals it is preventing you from reaching. This can be the life changing exercise you need to get your spending under control. Write down a list of the financial goals you have and when you would like to achieve each of these goals. Keep this list with you at all times so it is constantly on your mind every time you think about shopping. Reaching the financial goals, you set for yourself because you were able to get control of your shopping will make you feel empowered.

shopping cart with packages and tips for overcoming impulsive shopping

If you’re like many people, the allure of online and in-person shopping is strong. It can be easy to get lost in a sea of deals and discounts without even realizing how much money you’ve spent. Before long, your bank account is empty, and you’re left with nothing but regret and a pile of things you don’t need. But it doesn’t have to be this way! These steps you can take to break the cycle of compulsive buying behavior and start enjoying your money again. Did you know I can help? I’ll work with you one-on-one to create a plan to address your spending issues. Don’t let compulsive buying keep you from living the life you want – book your call today and take the first step towards freedom.


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