If you get high when you buy, it may be time for a financial intervention.

3 minute read

If your spending constantly spirals out of control, there could be more to your financial woes than just having too many monthly bills. You might be a spending addict who gets a rush from swiping your credit card, buying rounds of drinks or living a lifestyle that’s beyond your means.

But how can you know if your many purchases stem from addiction to the high you get with each transaction or a true desire to buy something you really need?

Here are five signs you could be a spending addict and how to break the bad habit.

1. Your credit cards are maxed out

Many of us have maxed out a credit card or two at some point in our lives. After all, unexpected home or car repairs, medical bills or other emergencies can run up the balance fast.

However, if your high credit card balance is due to impulsive purchases for clothing you never wear, fancy dinners out and boxes of electronics and other online purchases that remain unopened, you may be addicted to the rush of spending rather than buying things you need.

Tip: Paying down your credit cards as much as possible to improve your credit utilization rate — the ratio of rotating debt to your available credit — can raise your credit score. Pay cash when you can. You’ll feel the spending pain more (and hopefully spend less) when you see cash leaving your hands.

2. Your closet is filled with unworn clothing

Okay, we all like a good sale. But when you buy clothes simply because they’re a good deal or on clearance, hang them in your closet and then never look at them again, you could have a shopping addiction that’s never satisfied.

Tip: When you see clothing online, wait a day before purchasing until the initial rush of excitement goes away. You may change your mind. When shopping in-person, leave your debit and credit cards in the car. That way, you’ll have to think about the purchase rather than just whipping out the plastic.

3. Your dog wears cashmere sweaters

Nobody wants their dainty chihuahua to get goosebumps while walking on a cold, winter day. But did you really need that $200 sweater you bought for her online? And the same goes for that $400 gold-plated cat bed you bought for your purring Siamese.

Is it your pet you’re really thinking about with these extravagant purchases, or is your spending addiction getting the best of you?

Tip: Shop for affordable dog duds at Chewy.com like the rest of us and spend that money on pet health insurance instead.

4. You hide your purchases

Just like an alcoholic might hide bottles of liquor around the house, a spending addict also wants to conceal evidence of their out-of-control behavior.

Have you rushed home to grab that Zappos box off the porch before your spouse or partner sees it? Do you hide your credit card statements so your significant other won’t see all your impulsive purchases? If you have spending shame, that’s a sign you have a problem.

Tip: Own up to your partner about your spending addiction and ask them for support. Ask them to hold you accountable when you fall off the spending wagon.

5. You can’t stop watching shopping channels

If your kitchen and home are filled with gadgets and appliances you just had to buy but you never use, you’ve probably got a spending addiction, not to mention a cluttered house.

Tip: Stop watching shopping channels and spend your time meeting with a credit counselor at a nonprofit credit counseling agency instead. They can help you get your finances in order. While you’re at it, consider exploring the reasons for your spending addiction and find ways to beat it with a psychologist or other therapist.

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About the Author

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp is a full-time freelance writer based in Kansas City, Mo. Deb went from being unable to get approved for a credit card or loan 20 years ago to having excellent credit today and becoming a homeowner. Deb learned her lessons about money the hard way. Now she wants to share them to help you pay down debt, fix your credit and quit being broke all the time. Deb's personal finance and credit articles have been published at Credit Karma and The Huffington Post.

Published by Debt.com, LLC