So far, you have read about what makes up an addiction and some relevant addictive behaviors. Today we will discuss another common addiction that is a prevalent one in many relationships: Spending or shopping addiction. What are some signs that your spending is more than just leisurely shopping (whether in stores, online, at garage sales, flea markets, auctions, television, etc.)?
Spending Addiction can be very tricky because we have to spend money in our culture. It's what makes the world go 'round, right? If you find yourself hiding purchases from significant others, feeling a sense of excitement while shopping (in a store or online) & later feeling guilty and let down, then you might have a problem. Spending addiction does not always mean you are in financial crisis, just as being an alcoholic doesn't always mean you're homeless or non-functioning.
Spending addiction can also include making purchases on things you don't need (things you want) when your money could be better spent elsewhere, or just stay in your checking account. Period. If you find yourself in the situation where you make enough money every month, but are consistently playing the "Which-creditor-can-I-hide-from-this-week" game, then you might have a Spending Addiction.
The key is to ask yourself why you're spending (just as with any other addiction). Did you have a bad day? Did you have a good day? Are you feeling hurt? Need to cheer yourself up? There are so many rationalizations a person can think that make a good case for spending. If you are spending for any of these reasons, then feel and process the feelings. Spending money will not make the feelings go away!
Struggling with spending addiction beats up a persons self-esteem. It leaves you wondering if you'll ever be able to stop the cycle of chaos. It also interferes in relationships too. Hiding purchases from spouses only leads to trust issues later down the road. As material goods get acquired in the house, necessities go by the wayside: bills don't get paid, the mortgage gets behind, and the list goes on and on. Why does this happen? Spending addicts don't get excited or "high" when they spend money on paying the bills or the mortgage.
If you find yourself struggling with this addiction, or know someone who does, please seek help. There are 12-step groups to assist you, or please seek the help of a professional counselor who can help you sort through the addiction. You can have hope once again.
Written by: Tamara Portee MA, LMHC, LCAC
*Tamara enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, & couples counseling at Imagine Hope. We also specialize in family counseling, child & adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield & Fishers.