Personal Finance Smart Spending

Are You a Compulsive Shopper? Here’s How to Quit

Beth Trach
Written by Beth Trach

Need a little “retail therapy” because you’re a “shopaholic”? These terms may make for some cute t-shirts and memes, but shopping can actually be a serious addiction. In fact, compulsive buying disorder (CBD) affects 5.8 percent of Americans and can lead to serious psychological distress — not to mention debt, bankruptcy and despair.

Not everyone who loves to shop has a disorder, of course. But if you think you may have a problem getting your impulses under control and sticking to your budget, it’s worth learning more about CBD and how to treat it. Even if you just want to strengthen your frugality muscles, the suggestions for helping true shopaholics are also useful for anyone who wants to conquer their shopping itch.

What Is Compulsive Shopping?

First, the official name for this psychological disorder is Compulsive Buying Disorder, or CBD. But it goes by many other names, including:

  • Compulsive shopping
  • Compulsive spending
  • Impulsive buying
  • Oniomania
  • Shopaholism
  • Shopping addiction

True CBD is a disorder that features compulsions, which is a behavior that is continually repeated despite negative consequences. For example, if you feel an overwhelming urge to hit the mall even though you know you’ve maxed out your credit cards or won’t be able to contribute to your IRA this month, your shopping has become a damaging compulsion and not just a fun way to spend some time.

Compulsions feel like something you have to do, not just something you want to do. They are very often a coping mechanism to deal with stress in your life. So if you frequently have an impulse to go shopping, pay attention to when those occur. Is it in response to a bad day? Right after a fight with your significant other? As a way to boost your self-esteem?

About the author

Beth Trach

Beth Trach

Elizabeth Trach is a writer and editor living in Newburyport, MA. She also sings in a band, grows almost all her own food, and occasionally even cooks it. You can catch up on all her adventures in frugal living and extreme gardening at Port Potager.

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