It is likely that you or someone you know struggles with anxiety and/or addiction related to shopping. In a society that revolves around consumerism, it’s easy to get caught up in the idea that we need to buy things in order to be happy. But the truth is, tangible objects can never truly satisfy us the way that we want them to.  In America, we are bombarded with advertising telling us that we need the latest and greatest products. We are told that we will be happier, more popular, and more successful if we just buy this one thing.

So how can we break free from the cycle of compulsive spending? 

Shopping and consumerism are seen as positive activities that can improve one’s life. However, for some people shopping can lead to shopping addiction and anxiety. 

Shopping addiction is characterized by an obsessive need to shop and buy items beyond what is needed or affordable. It often leads to financial strain, debt, and guilt once the shopping spree ends. Compulsive shoppers may purchase items they don’t use or even like just to satisfy their urge. They may also find themselves returning items shortly after buying them due to buyer’s remorse or because it no longer satisfies their urge to shop again. 

Shopping anxiety is another form of consumerism that can be detrimental to one’s financial health. It is characterized by an overwhelming fear of consumer purchases or the fear of making the wrong consumer decision. This type of consumerism often leads to excessive research and comparison shopping in order to find the perfect item but ultimately results in no purchase being made at all. 

Understanding consumerism in America and how it affects our economy is key to being a responsible consumer, making better choices for our finances.  . Taking steps to manage shopping addiction or anxiety, such as setting spending limits, creating a budget, avoiding impulse buying, and controlling credit card use are just a few action steps you can take that will  help keep consumer spending within reasonable boundaries and reduce financial strain in the long run.

Here are some more tips for overcoming these problems.

  1. Understand why you shop. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to take a step back and ask yourself what underlying emotions are causing you to reach for your wallet in the first place. Are you shopping because you’re bored? Lonely? anxious? Unhappy? Figuring out what drives your spending habits is the first step in changing them. 


  1. Make a budget…and stick to it! It’s not enough to simply say “I’m only going to spend $X this month.” You need to sit down and map out exactly where your money is going to go. Once you’ve done that, put away your credit cards and only use cash or debit for the rest of the month. This will help you stay mindful of your spending and prevent impulsive purchases. 


  1. Shop with a purpose. Before you even leave the house, ask yourself what it is that you need to buy. Once you’ve got a specific item in mind, head straight for the section of the store (or site) where you’ll find it and resist the urge to browse other areas. If possible, bring along a friend or family member who can help keep you on track. 


  1. Don’t shop when you’re hungry or tired. We’ve all been there—we’re starving after work and end up buying half the grocery store, or we’re too exhausted to think straight and end up buying things we don’t need on If at all possible, avoid shopping when your judgment is impaired in this way. You’ll be much less likely to make impulse buys if you’re not hangry or exhausted! 


  1. Give yourself some time before making a purchase.. Oftentimes, our urge to buy something fades after a few days (or even hours). So instead of impulsively buying that new shirt or those shoes you’ve been eyeing, tell yourself that you’ll sleep on it first. Chances are good that by the time tomorrow rolls around, you won’t even remember what it was that you wanted so badly! 


If you struggle with anxiety and/or addiction related to shopping, know that you’re not alone—and that there is hope for recovery! By following the tips I outlined, you can learn how to break free from compulsive spending and take back control of your life. 

Remember, material possessions will never truly satisfy you, but taking control of your finances just might…