Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Shopping Is My Hobby

It's Not A Problem

“The store is about to close, the decision is tough, so many cute things to choose from, just what one should I choose? ... that one! Put it on my credit card, this is the last day of the sale!” who hasn’t had a moment like that, it’s a deal that’s just too good to pass up. When there are great – money saving – deals around us every day when does this excuse wear out? When does the casual spending, end up compulsive spending. Consumer debt is at an all time high, but we are buying
things we just don’t need, sometimes things that never come out of the box, or never get the tags cut off them.

Over-spending, compulsive spending. over-shopping, retail therapy, shopaholism, it’s all a problem: Oniomania – the uncontrollable urge to buy things. You can call it whatever you’d like but when you shop yourself into debt for things that are totally unnecessary you may need to re-think your spending habits and seek treatment of some sort. I know that all sounds extremely vague, however this problem is one of the newest and least recognized addiction disorder, there isn’t even a proper name for it. The psychiatrists, psychologists, and anthropologists that have studied compulsive spenders have classified shopaholics under the same category as people who have a gambling problem. Individuals with this problem usually don’t see what they are doing as an issue, but they are taking part in unnecessary actions that are or could eventually get them into a lot of trouble (financially). What most shopaholics do not realize is that they are not the only ones with this problem. There are thousands and thousands of people around the world that are struggling with the same problem.

Men are just as likely to be over spenders as women are, the only difference is the product they are buying, for example, a female over shopper may have a three-hundred handbags, and a male may have 300 different tools (when they know they won’t ever use them!). Most over shoppers also tend to become hoarders - * - they begin to hide things around the house so that their friends and family cannot see what they are doing. Those that suffer from oniomania begin to hide their credit card bills and bank statements, not only from those that may judge them, but also from themselves. Lying to everyone including themselves about the amount of money they spend and the things they buy. Dr. April Lane Benson a -*- who runs a private practice in New York City and mainly specializes in treatment for real shopaholics. Dr. Benson takes a special interest in people with bad spending habits because she was once suffering from the problem herself. She sought treatment, but also created her own treatment plans. Dr. Benson has written two books: I Shop, Therefore I Am (2003) , and, To Buy or Not To Buy (2004). In the self-help novel Dr. Benson goes through the steps to properly recognize your problem, and the underlying issue and how you can confront and treat your specific problem. The following are some of the tips that Dr. April Benson covers in her latest book: To Buy Or Not To Buy: Why We OverShop And How To Stop.

Reasons for Over-Shopping:

- Self-kindness, self-care, self-respect
- Needs: love and affection, belonging, esteem, and self actualization
- Fulfillment and happiness
- Inner strength and meaning: Affirming your true self

After you have figured the reason for over shopping that is only the beginning. You then have to figure out your weaknesses, what it is that temps you, and what can you do to avoid these temptations. The following are six extreme temptations that a shopaholic would want to avoid:

1. Malls and standalones
2. Internet shopping
3. TV commercials
4. Magazines
5. Catalog shopping
6. TV shopping channels
Now it’s time to move on from the problem and start figuring out what can help you stop:

- Avoid your danger zones , or at least reduce the exposure to these spots
- Resist social pressure (ex. Sales people,
- Remember: you don’t always have to “keep up with the Jones’”
- Don’t just buy things for your friends and/or family members – save it for a special occasion

Dr. Benson suggests that doing free activities to take the place of you shopping habits can be the best help to over-coming your problems. Finding a hobby is the best way to treat this problem, but before you take all these steps to recovery, you first must realize that you have a problem:

- Not just daily shoppers are shopaholics, the shopping can be done in binges
- Do you over-shop to project a certain image?
- Do you over-buy for others?
- Do you buy multiple versions of the same item?
- Do you spend so much time or energy on shopping that it impacts your life in a negative way?
- Has your shopping lead to a mountain of debt?

Women would say: “ New shoes chase the blues” . Men would say: “He who has the most toys when he dies, Wins”. These two quotes are boy anonymous but are most likely from the mouths of two shopaholics. Just because this problem is not yet one-hundred percent classified as a serious problem, does not make it any less serious. The movie Confessions of a Shopaholic does a wonderful portrayal of someone who suffers from compulsive spending; Rebecca Bloomwood’s weak spine when it comes to a great scarf that she certainly doesn’t need, hiding her purchases and debt from her best friends and family, and even Derek Smeath, the creditor that has to hunt Rebecca down just to get her to talk about paying back all of her debt. Shopping can be great, when planned out and done properly, going to the mall or stand-alone store for what you need not just going without a purpose and picking up a lot of expensive unnecessary purchases. Oniomania will only become more and more prevalent and will eventually take its place next to all the other addictive disorders.

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