MoneyMoments | MidFirst Bank
Person holding a handful of shopping bags

Taming Shopping Compulsion

It’s no secret that we love to shop. The sheer number of malls and yearly consumption of gross domestic products by Americans tell us that shopping is a favorite pastime for many. Why has shopping become such a popular activity? According to many professionals, spending money can release a brain chemical called dopamine which provides a pleasure known as a “shopper’s high.”

Online shopping heightens the biological compulsion to shop because you experience the “shopper’s high” two times – when you make the purchase and again when you receive the package in the mail.

Shopping is not bad. For some, it’s a hobby that may or may not cost as much as golf, gaming or art. However, when the desire to spend money puts you in debt, it’s time to change your lifestyle.

Here are some ways you can keep your shopping habits in check.

Know what you can afford

Permit yourself to shop by identifying a dollar amount and inserting a “shopping” category into your budget. The added component of fitting a purchase into your budget can increase the thrill of finding a bargain! After spending the allotted amount for the month, it’s time to find other ways to spend your time instead of charging your next purchase on a credit card.

Be aware of why you spend money

Understanding your spending personality helps you combat the desire to spend money. If you are an emotional spender, find ways to deal with your emotions that do not require spending money, like baking or running. If you like to buy gifts for others, find cheaper ways to show them you care, like offering to babysit or dropping off a home-cooked meal. If you tend to spend money to impress others, analyze why you need to show your wealth to others. Determine the internal reasons you spend money so you can develop a plan to overcome the desire.

Be aware of marketing tactics

Companies use tactics to persuade you to spend money, such as short, catchy slogans for company, brand or product recognition. Have you ever stopped to think about what a slogan is trying to sell you? Consider the slogan, “Because everyone deserves the best.” This slogan works because we all feel like we deserve the best. While we might deserve the best, we may not be able to afford the best.

Sales tactics such as “Today Only” and “Buy One, Get One” tempt us to make spur-of-the-moment buying decisions. Don’t let external factors, such as slogans or sales, persuade you to overspend. The next time you face a shopping temptation, consider your budget, and examine the internal and external reasons you are tempted to spend money.

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