Signs of a Spending Addiction

signs of a spending addiction
Spending addiction can lead to lifelong financial hardship, strained relationships, and self destructive behavioral patterns. As a compulsion and an addiction, spending addiction is typically a co-occurring disorder with underlying mental health issues. If you believe you have a problem with spending which cannot be stopped see if any of these signs apply to you.
  • Refusing to create a budget: Creating a budget is a structure which enforces accountability and responsibility for spending. Having to spend within a budget would mean not being able to spend outside of a budget. Resistance to creating a budget can be displayed through excuses, manipulations, or flat out defensive rejections.
  • Creating a budget and chronically overspending: In an effort to try and hide a spending addiction one might comply with creating a budget. Addictions of all kinds are met with compromises  and concessions on the part of the addict to try and keep up appearances with the overall goal of further shrouding their addiction. Despite creating a manageable budget, there is still a chronic problem with compulsive spending as well as overspending.
  • Compulsive spending: Compulsive spending can be financially related and emotionally related or stress related, which will be discussed below. However, a compulsive urge to spend might not be triggered by anything other than compulsion. A compulsion is a pattern of behavior which relieves obsession in the mind. Just seeing a sign for a sale, learning of a new product, or being in a place where shopping has taken place before could act as a compulsive trigger. Without an ability to regulate the compulsion to shop, there will be constant triggers to compulsively spend on anything.
  • Financial triggers: Spending addiction can be triggered by times of financial prosperity equally as much as times of financial hardship. Since recognizing negative consequences is one of the ways the brain is impaired during addiction, financial hardship will not serve as a barrier to spending addiction. Having too much money will cause the belief that there is plenty to spend, while having too little money will cause the belief that there is still enough to spend.
  • Emotional triggers: Most compulsive addiction issues are coping mechanisms. Coping with anger, sadness, happiness, frustration, disappointment, celebration, or any other range of emotional experiences, can trigger the brain to want to spend. Spending for happiness is common. “Retail therapy” on the other hand, as in spending to compensate for “negative” emotions, can become a compulsive issue. Emotional stress of any kind can cause the brain to seek pleasure in its most frequently reward-oriented activities, which would include spending.

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