Are You A Shopaholic-Compulsive Buyer? Is This A Disorder… That Could Lead To Hoarding!

Life and What Matters, Style & Fashion

Everybody shops. It’s how we get necessities like food and clothing, and luxury items like cell phones and home decor. Now more than ever, it’s easier to buy things with 24-hour online shopping, but when does shopping become compulsive buying?

Americans spend a lot of money shopping

Did you know that in 2016, Americans spent over $4.8 TRILLION on retail purchases! 

That’s Bananas Right!!!

For a Shopaholic, shopping turns into compulsive buying

Compulsive buying is an uncontrollable desire to shop which results in spending large amounts of time and money on the activity. Generally a person who buys compulsively gets the urge to shop in response to negative emotions (not to be confused with occasional “retail therapy”) and often has problems with relationships and finances as a result of their shopping behavior

5.8% of Americans are affected by Compulsive Buying Disorder in their lifetime.

What’s the meaning of a Shopaholic?  One who is extremely or excessively fond of shopping?

So how do you know if you are a Shopaholic?

Well, here’s  four characteristics and ways to know if you are a Shopaholic-Compulsive Buyer.

  1. Anticipation: Thoughts and urges start. They may focus on a specific item or the act of shopping itself.
  2. Preparation: Research and decision making take place. A person may look into sales or debate about where to go shopping.
  3. Shopping: Shopping happens. This is the so-called, “thrill of the hunt.” The person gets a “high” while doing it. 
  4. Spending: Something, or many things, are purchased. The personis sad that the shopping experience is over and may be disappointed about how much they’ve spent afterwards.


Shopaholics; this could really become a problem!  Is this you?  Well, it almost sounds like me…

Are you at risk for a compulsive buying problem?

If you agree with most of the statements below, it may be time to seek help. And I’m talking seriously seeking help. I don’t mean “Retail Therapy” help; I mean… I have a problem, can I get some “Psychological Therapy” help before I become a Hoarder and financially defeated!

  • If I have money left in my paycheck, I have to spend it.
  • Other people would judge me if they know how much I spend.
  • I buy things that I can’t afford.
  • I’ve overdrawn my bank account buying things that I didn’t need.
  • Buying things makes me feel better.
  • I’m anxious on days that I don’t go shopping.
  • I pay the bare minimum on my credit card(s), but keep charging items.

“That doesn’t make me a Shopaholic-Compulsive Buyer and I’m definitely not a Hoarder, I just like to shop and have nice things. I’ll never be a Hoarder, I just buy classic pieces that are timeless and never go out of style!” 

Okay, that sounds good, but let’s see if there is a difference…

How is compulsive buying different from hoarding?

  • People who compulsively buy may purchase so many items that it leads to hoarding. Sixty-one percent of people with hoarding problems meet the criteria for compulsive buying; however, there are also key differences between compulsive buying and hoarding.

That said, lets talk about Compulsive Buying vs. Hoarding!

The Focus:  Are you focus on shopping for what you need or just acquiring things?

The Motivation:  What’s the point behind the purchase?

The Attachment:  If I had to let this thing go, can I?

The Visibility:  Do I like to just see that I have it, not so much needed it (wants)?

Compulsive Buying

Focus: Process of shopping

Motivation: To elevate social status or relieve negative emotions

Attachment:  Little to none

Visibility:  Purchased items are either flaunted or hidden


Focus: The item being acquired

Motivation: To collect items that have sentimental value or perceived usefulness

Attachment:  Strong emotional connection to items

Visibility:  Items are accumulated to the point where the functionality of a person’s home is compromised

Now here’s the shocker!

Did you know that compulsive buy can be a form a mental illness?

People who have Compulsive Buying Disorder often meet the criteria for other mental illnesses as well, such as mood disorders, anxiety disorders, substance use disorders, eating disorders, ADHD, and a variety of impulse control disorders

  • Excessive spending can be a symptom of Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Spending sprees may occur during manic episodes of Bipolar Disorder; however, this is different from Compulsive Buying Disorder and spending sprees generally stop once a manic episode has ended.
  • Compulsive buying is often driven by feelings of anxiety, depression or low self-esteem.   

How do I get better?

What’s the treatment for being a Shopaholic-Compulsive Buyer? 

Some professionals classify compulsive buying as an obsessive compulsive disorder, while others liken it to an impulse control disorder. Therefore, there is no one specific treatment for compulsive buying.

Support groups modeled after 12-step programs have been helpful in dealing with compulsive buying behaviors. Debtors Anonymous ( is one such support group and has meetings at locations across the country.

Other ways of addressing compulsive buying include self-help books, simplicity circles and articles like this one!

But how about you start with something that is easy; that you can start working on right now…

Take control of spending

  • Keep track of your spending to see if you notice patterns.
  • Set a budget for how much you can spend on shopping. You may want to set weekly limits. Use cash for shopping purposes and keep your credit and debit cards at home when you go out.
  • Identify what triggers the urge to shop or spend, and think about what you can do to manage those triggers.
  • Do your best to avoid the urge to shop for unnecessary items before bills are due or immediately after getting paid.

Let’s help ourselves before we need to call for help or it’s too let for help! 

In closing, check this out…

Real-Talk! Maybe this will make you understand how serious of a problem this could be or turn into if not taken serious!


The word alcoholic refers to someone who has a serious disorder.

Addictive shopping can be serious, too, but the word shopaholic is most often used playfully to suggest mere excess rather than true addiction.

Shopaholic first appeared in print in 1983. It was formed on the model of alcoholic, which was itself created many years earlier by combining alcohol with -ic, meaning “of or relating to.”

People evidently saw a parallel between someone addicted to alcohol and someone “addicted” to shopping.

God Bless… And put the bags down and the money up!

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