Battle The Shopping Impulse - How To Overcome Consumerism


Shopping addiction is a behavioral addiction that pertains to compulsive buying as a means to feeling good and divert from negative feelings, including depression, anxiety, and stress. Much like other behavioral addictions, shopping can occupy the majority of a person's life, which leads to additional problems in their life in the future.

Mass consumerism is the most socially accepted addiction - advertising is thrown into our lives daily with the false promise that buying is what we need to be happy. And for some individuals, "keeping up with the joneses" or wanting the products most everyone has, is highly alluring. However, this perceived measure of social self-worth can be managed with smart spending habits.

Warning Signs of Shopping Addiction

Telltale signs of shopping addiction include the following:

  • Always preoccupied thinking of planned purchases
  • Lack of control to stop compulsive shopping
  • Chasing a rush of euphoria when buying something
  • Feeling regret or guilt after making purchases
  • Financial instability or struggling to pay off debts
  • Being untruthful about purchases or concealing them
  • Applying for additional credit cards without paying off balances on old ones
  • Making unnecessary purchases excessively
  • Shopping to ease stress or sadness

Coping Mechanisms to Manage The Addiction

  • Take a moment to reevaluate your life.

Introspect and analyze your life. Do you have time, money, and energy for what matters most to you? Are your possessions a burden or hindrance to your well-being? Slow down to evaluate in depth the entire picture: your income, insurance payments, household bills, day-to-day purchases on necessities and non-essential purchases, etc. Are you content and holding your own financially? Or do you need room for improvement?

  • Don't try to "keep up" with other people.

There is no practical reason to pursue the lifestyle of your neighbors, classmates, friends, or family. Their life circumstances may seem lavish on the outside, but this may not be true; higher expenditures mean a higher likelihood of debt to afford these things. Therefore, your life is unique to you and will not improve by trying to live up to a particular social status or popular trends.

  • Understand your triggers and accept them.

Recognize what triggers your impulse to spend. Advertisers understand psychology better by recognizing our motivations and subtly appealing to these desires. Many promise varying types of satisfaction in a relatively quick manner; this is especially the case for online retail shopping and food and grocery delivery services, which appeal to the convenience of fast service. Once you understand which motivations dictate your spending habits and why you have them, you can manage them more productively.

  • Consider the hidden costs of your purchases.

It's too common only to pay attention to the sticker price when making a purchase. However, this is rarely the final cost. We spend much more than just money with each purchase - time, energy, and focus (organizing, fixing, cleaning, maintaining, removing, replacing, etc., which may be financially expensive long-term). Once you realize which purchases are long-term investments, you can better asses which ones are genuinely manageable and worth it.