Hi, my name is Charlotte and I’m a shopping addict. Not in cute, ‘Oh I can’t help myself, I just NEED those high heels’ kind of way, but in a ‘My shopping addiction means I’m going to spend six hours scrolling through ASOS kind of way’. When I get stressed, I compulsively shop.
I’ve been like this for pretty much my whole adult life, especially when I’m going through a stressful time. Some people drink, others use drugs, I like like to online shop to self-soothe. It makes me feel better for a while.
How I keep spending under control
FIRST OFF – If you are someone who is in financial trouble because of compulsive shopping, please get help. The Money Advice Service has a help centre which is free to use.
You can Whatsapp them, talk to them online via webchat or give them a call – all free and you’ll feel better afterwards.
That said, I am not in financial trouble because although I spend a lot of time shopping, I don’t actually spend a lot of time buying (anymore).
Working at MoneySavingExpert.com helped (sort of)
For someone with a shopping addiction, I found the best job ever for me. I was hired at the original Deals Hunter at MoneySavingExpert.com.
My day literally involved scrolling through websites, and finding deals and bargains. Probably the dream job for most of us to be honest! I loved it.
When I first started I would buy a lot of the things I would find for the website. I couldn’t help myself. My whole paycheck would disappear (and I wasn’t paid a lot in those days!).
Box after box would turn up at my house, with random item after another. I’d have clothes in the wardrobe with tags on, products in packages just sitting around. There’s still a bloody sewing machine at the top of my wardrobe I’ve never used which haunts me to this day.
I noticed I didn’t really get a lot of joy out of the items I bought, but I did enjoy the shopping experience.
So that’s that I did. I’d hunt for bargains.
After I left MoneySavingExpert.com and started writing elsewhere, I continued with this blog but also run a deals group called Luxury on a Budget.
It’s a lovely bargain finding group, and if I can help others with my skills – why not?
Shopping addiction quiz
Ok, picture me with a mahogany tan and a gold sequin jacket – because that’s what quizmasters look in my head.
So wondering if you’re a shopping addict? Do you relate to any of these things?
- Do you experience problems in your life because of overspending?
- Do you shop when you’re angry, upset, disappointed etc?
- Do you feel like you’re doing something dangerous or exciting when you shop?
If you think any of these apply to you, you might have a problem. I’m not saying you need to cut up your bank card ASAP, but knowing why you behave in the way you do is always a good place to start.
My tips to help control compulsive shopping
Again, please please please, if you’re in serious financial trouble and have completely lost control – you need more help than I can give you (I’ll talk about it below).
However, if you’re someone who self-soothes with shopping too much, this is what *I* do to control my spending.
- Recognise what you’re doing. Are you shopping because you’re upset? Sad? Angry? Is flicking through your favourite websites making you feel better? Fine – but stop and realise your emotions are making you do this.
- Use your basket. Often *for me*, it’s enough to spend hours scrolling through websites and putting things in my basket. I don’t actually have to buy the items.
- Buy and return. I pay for Amazon Prime and have the fancy ASOS delivery (it’s around £10 for the year) which means I get ‘free delivery’ and returns. So I can buy stuff, get it (along with that underwhelming feeling), and then return it.
- Keep busy. I know when I do it. In the evenings, with my laptop out, I’ll start mindlessly shopping. If I don’t want to do it, I let my computer die and sit in a different room from it. I don’t enjoy shopping on my phone, so try and just keep that with me (because let’s be real, I’m not going to not be checking social media constantly!)
- Block websites – Most of us have a handful of shops we like to browse. If you’re trying to stop visiting them (and it’s so easy to mindlessly stick in the URL), download a free website blocker. This way you can’t get on the site unless you actively try to, which is a faff.
Getting shopping addiction help
You know, what works for me might not work for you. And again, this stuff isn’t ruining my life – it just flairs up somewhat when I’m stress (and guess what, it’s stressful right now).
Unless I’m wrong (and please do let me know if I am), I can’t find any legit charities who help with a shopping addiction.
When I Googled it, it’s all rehabs which look like they are places to get free, legitimate help, but they’re going to try and get you to pay for services.
That said – you can ALWAYS get free money help. Again, the Money Advice Service is free, and can put you in touch with the right help for you. Always free.
It’s also very worth talking to your doctor about it too. The truth is, whether you’re compulsively shopping, drinking, gambling etc – you’re doing it because you’re not dealing with other feelings.
You may be able to get an appointment with a councillor who can help you recognise what you’re doing and how you can cope with that.
That’s my experience off shopping addictions and my tips make sure I don’t spend too much with it – but if you could share yours, I’d really welcome it. It could help others.