citylog
The E-
Edition:
CW
page
by page

Tumblr.jpg Google_Plus.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Home / Articles / · Archive / News & Columns /  Feature | Shopaholic: Once buried in debt, these shopping addicts are digging themselves out. Page 3
News & Columns

Feature | Shopaholic: Once buried in debt, these shopping addicts are digging themselves out. Page 3

By Carolyn Campbell
Posted // December 10,2008 -

n

Hitting Bottom
nOnce she began logging her income and expenses, Caitlin was able to stop adding to her $11,000 debt. Eventually, she realized she was able to connect her debt load with her lack of power over shopping. Looking back, she says, expensive shops were never her problem. Caitlin was most vulnerable in stores that combined grocery- and household-goods departments—Super Wal-Mart and Target were favorite haunts. “I had a tendency to wander up and down every aisle. I hated to get home and think I forgot something,” Caitlin says.

n

Many shopping addicts describe similar experiences—wandering through stores looking for something, anything to buy. It’s like trying to cover a big hole that will never get filled. UVU’s Workman explains one root of the disorder is a misunderstanding and fear of money and how to manage it. “They are literally afraid of [money]. … In wanting to fill a void with something else, the addict finds the act of buying and purchasing objects provides only temporary relief, although he feels very guilty for overspending immediately afterwards.”

n

In Caitlin’s case, cheap DVDs often caught her eye. “Every week or two, I’d buy eight of the ones that cost $3-$5,” she remembers. Scented candles, a decorative dog for a fireplace mantle and a two-pack of liquid drain cleaner were added to her cart—even though she already had two dual-packs of the stuff at home.

n

A shopping trip to a big discount store often resulted in a $150 bill. “I didn’t realize how much it all added up because I kept putting it on the credit card,” Caitlin recalls. “All my credit cards were maxed out, and I was having trouble making even minimum payments” (another red flag of a shopping/spending disorder, experts note). Money became a big stress in her marriage. “I spent all of his drinking money, and he drank all of my spending money,” she recalls.

n

Angela sees shopping for clothes and eating out as the most significant contributors to her debt. She never spent less than $100 on a shopping excursion. “I have no sales resistance at all,” Angela says. “If someone stops me in the mall and asks me to buy something, I say, ‘Sure.’” As her debt load climbed, she always had a way out, fed by her denial. “If it reached $5,000, I would think, ‘What’s another $30?’”

n

Both women’s marriages ended in divorce. Like alcoholics or drug abusers, shopping addicts often “hit bottom” before realizing they need help, Workman says. Their families may have tried to help them out of their financial bind and can do no more. In their frustration, Workman says, some family members will completely ostracize a person with a shopping addiction.

n

Therapists who work with compulsive shoppers say that much of the disorder is wrapped up in the way victims relate to money—how much they earn, how much they feel free to spend, what power cash and credit have in their lives.

n

The first psychological references to the problem go back to the early 20th century, when textbooks addressed a “buying mania.” Back then, sufferers were found to be only women, and even today, “Females are more likely to play out the behavior in the marketplace through shopping,” Workman says. Women tend to shop compulsively for clothes, jewelry and cosmetics, while men tend to purchase electronics, gadgets, sporting goods and firearms. Michigan therapist Shulman estimates up to a third of shopping addicts are male.

n

For women, their historic status as underearners in society may come into play. Angela felt she perceived money in a skewed way because she had always had trouble consistently earning what she needed to maintain financial security and independence. Money wasn’t merely a means to an end—a tool to pay the rent, or to buy adequate food and clothing. She gave money more psychic power than it probably deserved, and she grew more obsessive about spending it, even when she didn’t have enough for the necessities and even while incurring a mountain of debt.

n

Continue reading: Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4 | Read All
 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Post a comment