12 Small Steps to Break Your Shopping Addiction Cycle for Good

I am a self-proclaimed recovering shopaholic. It’s not a fun term or something that sums up the fact that I love shopping.

The older (and wiser) that I have gotten, the more I have come to realize that shopping addiction is a very real thing.

Tom loves spending nice days walking around the outlet mall by our house and honestly, I fear going there every. single. time.

There has been more than once where I run around the store filling my arms with clothes and shoes when I had no intention of purchasing anything.

Sound familiar? If so, I have 12 super simple, small steps to help you break your shopping addiction. They have worked for me and I’m confident they can help you as well.

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What is a shopping addiction

Shopping addiction is like any other kind of addiction. It’s something you struggle to control that negatively impacts your life.

Shopping addictions can be a part of, or lead to, major hoarding issues or serious financial struggles.

According to PsychGuides.com there are 6 different types of shopping addicts:

Types of shopping addictions

  • Compulsive shopaholics – Emotional shoppers.
  • Trophy shopaholics – Shop for the “perfect” item.
  • Shopaholics – Want to live up to a certain image. (Me)
  • Bargain shoppers – Purchase what they don’t need because it’s on sale. (Also me.)
  • Bulimic shoppers – Feel remorse over purchases and are constantly returning.
  • Collectors – Want every color and every piece to a set.
  • Givers – This wasn’t on the list, but this is one I very much think pertains to many people. People who want to gift their family and friends things so much that they dig themselves deep into credit card debt.

It’s crazy that I never really took the time to realize that each shopping addiction could be totally different from the next.

See my Instagram post about being a shopaholic.

Who is most likely to suffer from shopping addiction?

More than anything shopping addiction stems from emotions. People purchase an item to celebrate or when they are nervous, mad or stressed.

Personally, I feel like my shopping addiction was a nice way of distracting myself from actually taking a look at the problems in my life.

It was a great way to avoid deeper emotional things that were going on.

Compulsive shoppers use shopping as a way of escaping negative feelings, such as depression, anxiety, boredom, and anger, as well as self-critical thoughts. Unfortunately, the escape is short-lived. The purchases are often simply hoarded unused, and compulsive shoppers then begin to plan the next spending spree.

Read the full article here.

Basically, anyone can suffer from a shopping addiction although women are more likely to than men.

If you struggle with a shopping addiction, don't miss these 12 practical steps to help you break the shopping addiction cycle for good.
Women often struggle with shopping addiction more than men.

Common signs of shopping addiction

There are many signs of shopping addiction and some people might not even be aware that it is a problem. Here is a list of the most common symptoms that are associated with an addiction.

  • Owning multiple credit cards
  • Spending more money than you have
  • Debt
  • Buyer’s Remorse – Feeling guilt after purchases
  • Shopping because of negative emotions
  • An instant feeling of joy after making a purchase
  • Constant thoughts of shopping

12 steps to breaking a shopping addiction

Just like any addiction, there are always steps you can take to fight back.

As with other addictions, a shopping addiction has most likely left you with a mess you need to clean up. Maybe an actual clutter mess or maybe a big financial mess.

Knowing that this is going to be an uphill battle is often paralyzing to people. Especially if you have accumulated a lot of clutter and/or debt.

Don’t let the struggle get you down because at the top of the hill is always the best view. You just have to sweat a little to get there.

So let’s talk practical steps to breaking a shopping addiction.

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1. Be honest with yourself

The first thing you have got to do is be honest with yourself about your shopping addiction.

Like I said, I never really thought I had an “addiction.” Addiction to me meant drugs, compulsive gambling, alcohol or cigarettes. I was just a young girl who felt joy in buying cute shoes and trendy tops.

When I became a stay at home mom, I remember telling Tom, I needed to have shopping money. It was something I had to do. Now, if I would have said this about vodka, he probably would have seen it as a problem. But when the problem is disguised as 8 new items bought on clearance people don’t seem to notice as much.

Getting honest about your problem instead of making excuses as to why it’s ok is absolutely the first step you need to take in helping yourself recover.

If you can’t admit there is a problem, then nothing else will work for you.

2. Identify your triggers

Shopping addiction usually stems from some form of emotion.

Are you quick to go shopping after you’ve had a fight with a spouse?

Do you head to the mall as soon as you start feeling bored?

Did you just see a girl on Instagram looking adorable and now you feel the need to keep up?

Whatever the case, identifying the triggers that cause you to head to the mall is a great way to begin to find the root cause of your shopping addiction.

Once you have started to recognize your triggers, you’ll be able to help create new patterns and habits for yourself that are more beneficial to you than giving in to your addiction.

3. Find new coping mechanisms

When you have identified your triggers, you can begin to create new, healthy habits to cope.

For example, if you realize you feel the urge to shop after a really hard day at work, come up with a game plan for how to handle those tough days without shopping.

Ideas for healthy coping

  • Working out
  • Running
  • Praying
  • Music
  • Writing
  • Drawing
  • Playing with your dog
  • Cleaning

Avoid replacing your addiction with other bad habits like eating, binge watching Netflix, bad mouthing, or internet scrolling.

Depending on your trigger, coping mechanisms will look different for everyone. No matter what, work to keep money out of the situation since that is most likely already an area of stress.

4. Remember there is always a sale

This was probably the biggest help for me when it came to quitting my bargain shopping addiction.

Whenever I would go to the mall, I felt this compulsive need to hit up the sales because I didn’t want to miss out on something. I mean, if I had the chance to save some money, why would I pass it up? Nevermind the fact that if I avoided the sale altogether, I would save all my money.

Then one day it hit me, there was always a sale. Every time I went to the mall I was finding some big awesome sale. That could only mean that I was never getting in on something special in the first place.

This realization helped me to understand that when I actually felt I needed to purchase something, there was going to be some way that I would be able to pay less or get it on sale.

If you struggle with a shopping addiction, don't miss these 12 practical steps to help you break the shopping addiction cycle for good.
Avoid the SALE temptation. It’s just a tactic to sell you more.

5. Stop using credit cards

If you want to quit a shopping addiction, you have got to cut yourself off at the source. That means cutting up credit cards and removing credit card information from your computer.

Do whatever you can to break the habits of credit card debt.

Cutting up credit cards is of course not an instant cure to a shopping addiction but it only stands to benefit you.

Get more tips on how to quit credit cards.

6. Avoid malls and online shopping

Just like cutting up credit cards, make a habit of not going to places of major temptation.

In a lot of ways, stores are making this easier — or worse — depending on how you look at it. With the ability to now order your groceries ahead of time and pick them up at the store or have them brought right to your door, you can reduce the probability of you scrolling the isles, and checking out the dollar bins at Target.

This new feature could also be used to over-spend like a form of online shopping. Which brings me to my second point…stop online shopping.

With the internet, shopping addiction is easier than ever to feed. You are constantly bombarded with tempting ads and emails and whenever you want something, you can literally order it in less than a minute.

If you fill your online shopping cart and have to actually get up to get your purse in order to enter your payment information, chances are you’ll be given a little more time to think about your purchase and slow the thought process down a little. So if you have cards saved on your computer, or other device, delete them!

7. Shop with a purpose

Whenever you do make your way to the mall, store, or online shopping, make sure you are doing it with a purpose. Have a planned item in mind that you know you want to buy.

This is a better habit to get into than just shopping out of boredom.

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8. Leave on the tags

Although binge shopping is a form of shopping addiction, I still believe that leaving the tags on your items for a few days, in case buyer’s remorse sets in, is a wise decision.

In my experience, it usually doesn’t take a long time before feeling guilty about your purchase(s). Yet, even though I would feel guilty, I usually convinced myself that I still needed these items.

Leaving the tags on gives you an out and can allow you to potentially correct your mistakes. Although returning items may feel shameful or embarrassing, you will end up saving yourself more financial burden in the long run.

If you struggle with a shopping addiction, don't miss these 12 practical steps to help you break the shopping addiction cycle for good.
Leaving the tags on allows you to return items if you need to.

9. Create a dream board

How in the world could a dream board help with a shopping addiction?

The biggest struggle with a shopping addiction is that people are acting on impulse. There is a total disregard for future consequences.

Hanging a dream board somewhere you see it every day forces you to remember what your bigger goals are. Chances are hitting up the clearance section isnt one of them.

Look at your dream board each day and remind yourself of what you want for real in order to stop yourself from purchasing what you want right now.

10. Start a budget

The word budget can easily be a shopping addicts worst nightmare when really, it can be the most freeing thing for you and your shopping addiction.

Taking the time to create a budget can easily allow you to budget money for shopping and fun.

There are great worksheets in my Fun Sized Budget Bundle that can help you get started creating a successful budget that works for you.

Budgeting is actually a method that gives you permission to spend and it can help reign in your purchases.

When you know you only have $100 left to spend, it might make you think twice about that $80 purse you’ve been eyeballing.

11. Practice gratitude

Gratitude can work wonders, especially if you take the time to write down what you are grateful for each day.

When we start to practice gratitude every day we slowly lose that desire to obtain more.

Take a look around, in your closet, in your room, throughout your house…what items do you see that you are truly so thankful to have?

Do you have that favorite pair of shoes that you would never give up?

Taking the time to be thankful for them each day may very well help you from feeling obligated to buy another pair.

Being thankful for what we already have is the key to contentment and can very well help you end your shopping addiction for good.

12. Save up

Breaking a shopping addiction does not mean that you never get to go shopping again. You just have to be smarter about it.

If you love going on big shopping sprees, great. Just save up for them. Instead of putting random purchases on a credit card and racking up interest, save up ahead of time so that you can spend freely and leave your credit card at home.


  1. DNN | 13th Feb 19

    I too was once a shopaholic and got addicted for a quick minute of buying cologne and having multiple shipments arrive. Before that, I was heavily into shoes. I’m now over it. LOL

    • Renee | 13th Feb 19

      I definitely went through the shoe phase!! And yup…over it haha

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