According to their self-report, about 10% of all adults in western countries report themselves as displaying compulsive buying symptoms. How to explain the proliferation of this behavior; why does 10% of the western world continue to overshop in the face of debt, seriously compromised relationships, guilt, shame, anxiety and deteriorating self-worth?
Ryan Howell, Associate Professor of Psychology at San Francisco State University and co-founder of beyondthepurchase.org, had the same question. He and his students conducted research to investigate. After collecting data on money management, shopping habits, and perceived value of material goods, Howell and students discovered that poor money and credit management was the deciding factor in the compulsion to shop. Poor credit management includes not paying credit card bills on time, ignoring credit card statements, and spending over credit card limits. These studies also suggest that personality, gender, age and income are unrelated to compulsive buying.
Howell believes that credit cards inspire overshopping because they allow consumers to achieve the “buy high” without the immediate pain of paying. Although personality traits and values influence individual shopping habits, the road to recovery doesn’t lie in changing values. The study’s statistical models suggest that it’s easier to manage your habits and behavior than change your desire to acquire goods. But will this make a permanent change? Time will tell.
The researchers suggest that compulsive buyers check in with themselves to home in on the real driving force of the overshopping behavior. Paying close attention to credit cards and credit card bills is also crucial.
To read more, go to Why Do Shopping Addicts Keep Spending Their Money?
Carrie Rattle is a Principal at BehavioralCents.com, a website for women focused on mind and money behaviors. She has worked in the financial services industry for 20+ years and hopes to inspire women to better prepare themselves for financial independence.