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There's a huge difference between a shopping addict and someone who enjoys searching for and purchasing new items. If you think your shopping habits are turning into an unhealthy addiction, here are six warning signs that may indicate whether you have crossed the line from enjoying shopping as a pleasant activity to obsessive shopping that is a compulsion you have difficulty controlling.
1) People comment upon your shopping habits
When shopping is an obsession, you may not recognize the problem in yourself. However, your friends and family may already be aware that your obsession with shopping is a problem. If people comment on the frequency of your shopping trips, the number of your purchases or the amount of money you spend in a day, week or month, it's because they realize your shopping is out of control, and you're putting your financial and emotional health at risk.
2) You're slipping into debt
People with a shopping addiction are so compelled to get their "shopping high", they will risk financial ruin as they knowingly spend money they don't have in their quest for new stuff, better stuff and more stuff. Shopaholics have lost their home, spouse and even custody of their children because they can't control this overwhelming urge to buy something new even if they are spending money earmarked for their mortgage, groceries, insurance premiums or even their child's health care.
3) Your house is filled with unopened bags, clothing with tags and useless items
People who are addicted to shopping want to feel the serenity or comfort that comes with exchanging money for goods. Once the goods are purchased, the shopper may not even bother to open the bag to look at what's been purchased because the main high or feeling of euphoria comes at the cash register and not afterwards when remorse starts to creep into the shoppers' thoughts. If you have attics, basements and closets stuffed with unworn or unused items, it's safe to say that you're over shopping due to a compulsion and not out of need or even greed.
4) You lie about your purchases and hide receipts and shopping bags
If you find yourself feeling ashamed at what you bought or how much money you spent, you may start to hide your purchases from your family because you're embarrassed by your lack of control. Classic shopaholic behaviors include sending online purchases to friends' homes rather than your own or hiding your latest shopping spree by keeping bags in the trunk of your car until you're able to bring them into your home without anyone seeing.
5) You can never leave a store, flea market or boutique without buying something
If you can't even go into the gas station mini-mart to pay for your gas without buying something, even a pack of gum, you are giving in to your shopping addiction. A true shopaholic will be compelled to make a purchase at every opportunity.
6) Any emotion, happy or sad, evokes the uncontrollable urge to shop
Some people joke about retail therapy as a means to overcome unhappy emotions, but the shopping addict will feel the need to punctuate every emotion with a trip out to the store. If you find yourself shopping because you had a good day, bad day or boring day, you're showing the signs of a serious shopping addiction and should seek out help now before your addiction becomes crippling.