Do you use shop therapy to feel better when you’re depressed? When you see something you want, do feel the need to buy it as if driven by an unseen force? Are you over your head in debt but keep on shopping anyway? Is your spending affecting your relationships and personal life? Do you find yourself feeling depressed and guilty after a big shopping spree? If you have all or a few of the signs above, you may be a compulsive spender or “shopaholic”. Psychologists have defined the compulsive spender as a person who occupies so much time shopping or thinking about shopping that it affects their life in an adverse way. This can lead to broken relationships, low self esteem, depression and guilt. Psychologists have also said that guilty feelings actually make the problem worse, turning it into a vicious cycle. Compulsive shoppers try and soothe the guilt and depression by going out and shopping….again. Luckily, if you are a compulsive shopper, you are not alone. There are groups and meetings that can help support you in your endeavor to stop compulsive spending. I’ve also put together some tips to help you get your shopping under control. The Root Cause Most compulsive spenders aren’t shopping because they actually really want what they’re buying, but to cover up deeper emotions. So instead of channeling those emotional issues into shopping, find another way to cope. Talk to a friend or get some professional help. Cash or Credit? One of the easiest ways to overspend is just to swipe your card and charge it. When you aren’t actually handing over the cash, your brain doesn’t immediately process it as spending money. So instead of using your card, try to pay with cash as much as you can. You’ll be less likely to overspend when you can actually see how much you’re spending, right there at the register. Track and Budget Keeping track of your spending habits can really open your eyes as to how much you are actually spending. Seeing it down on paper and adding up the total makes you more conscious and more likely to make an effort to change your spending habits. Sleep on It Next time you want to buy something, wait 20 minutes before you check out (don’t worry, you don’t actually need to sleep on it!) Window shop or walk around the store while your brain gets over the initial excitement. After 20 minutes, you’ll be surprised to find out you probably don’t really want it anymore. Expand Your Social Circle Shopping is often the center of the shopaholic’s social life. If you channel your socializing into other activities, like nature, exercise and other hobbies, you’ll have less opportunity to overspend. Plus you’ll discover new activities that you may enjoy! You may enjoy shopping as much as the next gal, but you can’t let it take over your life. So stick to these easy tips and you’ll find your debt go down while your bank account and circle of friends grow!