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Are Your Spending Habits Unhealthy? 10 Questions to Ask

bigstock--124867835Messages are constantly seducing us into buying more; more than we need, more than we can afford. It’s no wonder that shopping has become a national pastime and “shop till you drop” an American credo.

Do you wonder if your shopping habits are healthy? Do you fear that your shopping patterns may have become out-of-control?

To find out, take this short quiz:

  1. Do you shop impulsively with little regard or awareness for how much you spend
  2. Do you feel a compulsion to go shopping when you are in need of an emotional lift or a pat on the back?
  3. If you decide not to buy an item because it is too expensive, do you feel deprived or angry?
  4. Has shopping from the comfort of your home become a compulsive habit for you?
  5. Has shopping become a way that you deal with feelings of emptiness, depression or anxiety?
  6. Do you often purchase items that you never use or enjoy?
  7. Do you often buy things one week and then return them the next week?
  8. Do you go shopping when you don’t know what else to do with your time?
  9. Do you tell yourself you’re only going to buy one or two items but end up buying considerably more?
  10. Have your shopping habits gotten you into debt?

The more questions you answered “yes” to, the more likely it is that you are a compulsive shopper. You are not alone. There are more than 15 million of you in the United States.

So, if you recognize that your shopping has become compulsive, what should you do?

First, kudos to you for recognizing that you’ve got a problem. It’s just so easy to deny it until your life spins out of control.

Next, you need to become cognizant of what triggers your spending. Often it is an attempt to avoid distressing emotions or feelings of emptiness. It would be so much healthier for you if you could directly deal with your emotions rather than covering them up with buying stuff, stuff and more stuff.

After all, which you would rather have? A solid, secure feeling of well-being or a momentary high to cover-up what’s really bothering you?

Sure, compulsive shopping, like other forms of self-medication can lift your mood. But when the high is over, you will feel even lower when the financial and relationship difficulties you’ve created begin to haunt you. Yes, not only might you end up in mega-debt but family members will be angry and frightened as their life, with yours, spins out of control!

So, next time you get the urge to spend, ask yourself what else could I do with my time? My money? My energy? My friends?

There is so much in this world to connect with. So many interests you can cultivate that will provide meaning to your life.

Yes, shopping can be a pleasure. But once it becomes a compulsion, you’ve lost control over it. Then it controls you. And the path it will take you on will not have a happy ending.


Are Your Spending Habits Unhealthy? 10 Questions to Ask

Linda Sapadin, Ph.D

Dr. Linda Sapadin, psychologist, success coach and author is proud to announce the publication of her new book, Overcoming Your Procrastination: College Student Edition – Advice for 6 Personality Styles available on Amazon. Now more than ever with remote learning, this book is a must-have. If you’re a perfectionist, dreamer, worrier, crisis-maker, defier or please, grab your copy. No longer a student? Get my book How to Beat Procrastination in the Digital Age – 6 Change Programs for 6 Personality Styles. Visit to subscribe to my free e-newsletter. Contact her at

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APA Reference
Sapadin, L. (2018). Are Your Spending Habits Unhealthy? 10 Questions to Ask. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 30, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 5 Mar 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.