Shopping Addiction – Knowing Your Money Personality Part 3 of 6 – The Addictive Spender

Knowing Your Money Personality

Part 3 of 6

The Addictive Spender (Shopping Addiction)

When our relationship with money isn’t healthy, we can fall into behaviours that do not serve us. We all have busy and stressful lives but turning to shopping to make us feel better may be an indication of a shopping addiction. There are many levels to any addiction but being able to see the signs and ask the right question may help you avoid unwanted and dangerous financial situations. Look out for becoming defensive or angry when people ask us about our spending habits. This is common behaviour of The Addictive Spender, one of the 5 financial personalities that Dr. Orloff speaks about.


Shopping Addiction – Avoiding the Real Issues

The Addictive Spender avoids the topic of money altogether and instead of worrying about the money that is being spent, they just spend. Facing their financial situation is not a concern to them. The short term gratification they get from spending is more powerful than the act of worrying. This may be a sign of a shopping addiction.

This behavior can lead to compulsive spending aka a shopping addiction, which Yarrow and Benson explain is a “response to an emotional problem”. When we experience negative emotions like anxiety, fear, worry or doubt, we avoid dealing with those emotions and choose another action instead. A shopping addiction can start off innocent at first. A pair of shoes here, a couple shirts there but soon you find a closet full of stuff that hasn’t even been taken out of the bags.  


Shopping Addiction – The Why and How

Why do people turn to compulsive shopping in the first place? Like other addictions, a shopping addiction becomes a way people cope with negative emotions. Compulsively shopping allows a release of endorphins. Endorphins trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. A shopping addiction can also manifest from the distortion between who we are and to who we wish to be. There may be a belief that if we acquire more of these material goods that we are more successful in life. 

How does a shopping addiction impact the rest of our lives? Benson says in another article, “It’s when someone spends a lot of time, energy, and money buying—or even thinking about buying—that it seriously impairs their life”. Compulsive or addictive shopping behaviour can have negative effects on both your personal and professional life.

A marketing professor at Baylor University, John Roberts, believes a shopping addiction stems from insecurity; he says, “People are trying to fill a hole that other aspects in their life, like their relationship or job, are not satisfying.”


Shopping Addiction – Changing your Habits

 This article, 5 Steps to Stop Compulsive Spending, recommends five different ways to help The Addictive Spender change their habits:

  •  Get to the root of the problem – which emotion are you avoiding dealing with when you are spending?
  • Pay in cash – paying with cards can make people feel disconnected from their money and not truly realize how much they are spending.
  • Track your spending – tracking your spending with a budget, no matter how complex, can help you to understand what you are spending your money on.
  • Wait 20 minutes before buying – when we see something we desire, it is a natural reaction to want it; this suggests that waiting 20 minutes helps your mind relax and think logically about whether you truly need or want it.
  • Fill your life with social connections – often compulsive shopping is because people feel a lack of connection with those around them.

We added a few of our own to help with a shopping addiction:

  • Plan your shopping – Know where you’re going and what you want to buy so you don’t get enticed to buy other things.
  • Don’t shop alone – Shop with friends or family and let them know you don’t want to go “Window Shopping.” Get in and get out. All of our loved ones will help us with any challenge we have, big or small.
  •  Review the previous week’s spending – Understanding your own habits and having insights into your own spending is a “must have” if you want to control your finances and be successful.


Shopping Addiction – Questions to Ask Yourself

When we see something we like it is easy to purchase it with little thought, especially in the day and age of tap payments or 1-click shopping. Benson offers a great suggestion for changing your behaviour around spending and it happens at the point of purchase. The next time you find yourself wanting to buy something, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Why am I here?
  2. How do I feel?
  3. Do I need this?
  4. What if I wait?
  5. How will I pay for it?
  6. Where will I put it?

Answering these questions will do a couple things. First, it will help you to clarify your current emotional state. You will be able to identify whether you are sad, confused or angry about something or someone. You are better able to understand where the impulse to shop is coming from.

Second, these questions help you understand whether you actually need this item by making you justify where it will go, how you will pay for it and understand the hypothetical situation of “what will happen if I wait or don’t purchase it at all”. Giving yourself context by answering these questions will put the purchasing decision into slow motion and help you make more informed decisions.

Shifting the way you understand your every day purchases is the greatest hurdle for The Addictive Spender, and first step to becoming a master of your finances.

Sprout is on a mission is to help Millennials develop a healthy relationship with their money and increase their financial literacy. We’re developing a Financial Wellness system and tool that helps you easily track and learn about your own spending habits so you can prioritize where your money goes and feel confident about your finances. This framework and tool can improve any financial personality’s wallet, especially the addictive spender. Sprout reels in the addictive spender by making it easy to know how much you have to spend, where your money is going and sending out personalized challenges to help you out along the way.


“I think it’s cool to be smart and I think it’s sexy to be smart.”― Stacey Farber

If you enjoyed this article, check out to see what we’re working on. Jump on the mail list to get early access to our App and stay up to date with all the cool things we’re working on! Check back soon for a more in-depth look at our third Financial Personality in our “Knowing your Financial Personality” series.

Beta has Launched

  We're excited to finally announce that our Beta version of the Sprout App is available. We're giving out Sprout Beta testers early access to the Sprout App in exchange for their awesome feedback!   Sign Up Today to get access to the Sprout App for FREE!...