I have purposefully avoided the word shopaholic here because it has almost a fun –like quality to it; like chocaholic or coffeeholic Many people airily state they are shopaholics but sometimes this condition is not just about having a penchant for sales and bargains. It is a clinically recognised illness that can get us into all sorts of trouble. 

The meaning of ‘aholic’ is a person who can not stop doing or taking something. The act of “over shopping” is not an activity that upsets people around you like a drunk person that knocks your coffee into your lap. They are shiny happy people that appear to be entirely normal; without affliction or malice. In fact, shopping is regarded as a perfectly reasonable past time. However there is a big difference between a harmless trip to the mall and overspending that puts us in a debt trap. We are all guilty of silly spending. 

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Most of us have bought a way over priced t-shirt, a pair of Aladdin shoes or a Hula skirt at an auction, so where does our spending cross the line from silly to serious? Here are some signs to watch out for: If you feel a distinct, rush of adrenalin when you buy something and feel on a “high”. This is usually accompanied by a “downer” the next day and a panic session over the money you spent. If you routinely buy items that sit in your home unopened for weeks, or you have clothes hanging in the cupboard unworn. If you have enough unused gadgets to open a store or have every model of the new mePhone regardless of whether your contract expired. A normal person will override their desire for an item when they can see they can’t afford it. 

A shopping addict will get into deep financial trouble, spending well above their income. A shopping addict will go into a store with the intention buying one pair of shoes and leave with an entire new wardrobe. It's a chronic problem. A shopping addict does not binge shop, it’s a daily or weekly event. A big tell- tale sign is if you hide you purchases from your partner. If your relationships are under stress from excessive spending or shopping, it’s time to get help. 

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How to stop the habit. 

The simplest solution is to avoid malls like the plague and condition yourself to do other activities. The gym for example, would be a much better place to be addicted to. If you think that you may have a problem with overspending then ask yourself what facets in your life are you unhappy with? It could be work dissatisfaction, a stressful relationship and strangely enough, financial stress could be the cause. 

Ditch retail cards and keep one or two credit cards for emergencies. Retail cards are way too appealing for a person who has no self-control. Get your bank to reduce the limit on your credit cards until you feel on a secure footing. 

Depression can trigger over-spending, chat to your doctor to see if this is an underlying issue. 

Take stock - Add up the cost all the items you've recently purchased. Seeing the list of stuff you have wasted money on may jolt you back to reality. Set yourself some goals. Creating financial goals is part of constructing a financial plan. Be clear about what you want, jointly with your partner if you are in a relationship and personally. 

Prepare a budget according to your committed goals. Then stick to it. Having a healthy respect for money and how it is spent is one of your most important steps toward financial stability.

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