Are you living with a shopaholic?
An addiction to shopping can do some serious damage to your finances. Find out how you can help a shopaholic to stop spending.
The name ‘shopaholic’ usually conjures up an image of girls having fun spending wildly on shoes and other must-have bargains, but in reality there are lots of women and men who just can’t resist shopping at every opportunity, especially in the run up to Christmas.
A survey released earlier this year by uSwitch estimated that seven million Britons are in the grip of shopaholism (or to give its proper name, oniomania, a compulsive desire to shop), resulting in unsecured debts of £13bn. Shopaholics have an average personal shopping debt of £3,353, nearly three times the national average of £1,147.
They went on to state that 74% of shopaholics use a combination of credit cards, store cards, overdrafts and loans to feed their addiction and 41% will ignore their overdraft limit to purchase must-have items.
While this survey might over-emphasise the issue (our own research shows that only 15% of our clients developed a debt problem because of overspending), we hear of stories of marriages and relationships falling apart because of the stress caused by compulsive buying.
In some cases, partners are not even aware of their other half’s spending habit as they hide their purchases. It’s only when the credit card statement arrives that the reality hits.
Even when they realise they are up to their neck in debt, they just can’t stop shopping.
Unfortunately, many people fall into this type of unaffordable impulse buying and before they realise it, they become overcommitted with debt.
Shopping can be an addiction, just like drugs or alcohol and spending money acts as a form of stress relief. It makes them feel good at the time, even if it has horrible consequences.
Like most addictions, there's usually an emotional trigger behind the addiction to shopping and they need to uncover what this might be and address it. The first step towards beating an addiction is the desire to want to do it in the first place.
Ways to help a shopaholic
1. Sit down with them and discuss your finances together. Make them aware of the consequences of their spending habits. They’re probably just as worried about the financial situation as you are, even if their behaviour is making it worse
2. Destroy their credit and store cards
3. Put together a budget. Give them a weekly allowance and get them to stick to it
4. Make sure they don’t shop alone. Suggest they take a friend who is aware of their spending habits
5. Suggest they take a list when they go shopping
6. Try to get to the underlying cause. If their spending is due to anxiety or depression, get them to seek professional help and counselling
7. They could consider joining a self help group such as Debtors Anonymous.
8. Getting them to keep a diary of all their expenditure will show exactly where their money is going
The key thing is not to ignore their situation, as it will only get worse.
Are you living with a shopaholic? How has it affected you? Post your comments below.