In May of this year, it was revealed that research had found that a drug commonly used to treat Alzheimers sufferers could also be used to effectively treat those suffering from ‘Compulsive Buying Disorder’. Clinical trials conducted at the University of Minnesota apparently found that sufferers of CBD – perhaps more commonly known as ‘shopaholics’ – felt their compulsive needs begin to lessen after receiving a treatment of drug memantine. Despite controversy from commentators who claim that CBD is not an addiction in the same category as alcoholism, it is increasingly being recognised by psychiatrists as a genuine disorder and has even been given the name ‘oniomania’.

Potential Shopping Queen?
Cougar via Compfight

Critics claim that oniomania is merely an excuse for irresponsible shoppers whose greed for material items outweighs their common sense. The image regularly conjured up when the term ‘shopaholic’ is mentioned is a young, fashionable Carrie Bradshaw-type, sheepishly placing another designer handbag on the table and declaring herself addicted to shopping.

Yet self-confessed ‘shopaholics’ regularly report feelings of depression followed by endorphin-rushes after making a purchase, which are similar to the feelings expressed by people suffering from drug and gambling addictions. Furthermore, in extreme cases of CBD people have been known to write up so much debt that they are forced to declare bankruptcy and lose their homes and even their families. It seems both insensitive and unreasonable to dismiss behavior as destructive as this as merely the laughable behavior of frivolous women.

When case studies are examined, it also becomes clear that is not only women who show these compulsive tendencies. In July of this year, a British man was arrested and charged with fraud for siphoning over half a million pounds from the charity he worked for as an accountant. Brendan Joyce, aged 57, used the money that he stole to buy 105 cars which he subsequently spent thousands of pounds per month on storing in different garages around his hometown. But Mr Joyce wasn’t buying expensive, flashy cars to create an image of wealth and luxury. On the contrary, the cars he purchased were described in court as being run-of-the-mill family cars of quite low value. Can this peculiar behavior really be dismissed in the same way as a young woman who spends a bit too much on a pair of shoes?

Fortunately most people’s spending habits do not fall into the extremities of people such as Mr Joyce, but debt is increasingly becoming a problem worldwide. If you worry about your unnecessary spending, here are some top tips to follow.

Say No to Store Cards

One of the most useful mantras to remember if you want to avoid the risk of getting into debt is this: only spend what you already have. If you can afford that expensive item you want and you won’t be using your rent money to buy it then sure, go ahead. But if you can’t afford it, then save money until you can. Store cards and credit cards are tempting because of the instant gratification they offer you, and paying the amount back after your pay check comes through seems like an easy option. But if you can’t afford to pay back the full amount at the end of the month then you will quickly feel yourself stung by the high interest rates.

Limit Your Internet Shopping

Online shopping has exploded in the last decade, with many people preferring the ease of browsing from home on a computer and having items delivered in a few days. However, this can become a dangerous habit. When you return to a site you have visited before, it becomes easy to make purchases with just one click of the mouse, without having to re-enter any card details. This can make you feel as if you’re not spending any money and desensitize you to what you are doing.

Pre-Paid Cards

One thing to consider may be bank accounts that offer you an option of a pre-paid cash card. This involves setting aside money in your account for your essential outgoings – rent, phone bills, etc – and then loading what spare cash is left onto a card. This card can then be used as a normal debit card in shops and at ATMs, but you have the peace of mind that you’re not spending money that belongs elsewhere.

Start Carrying Cash

Obviously carrying a lot of cash is not a sensible idea, but whenever you can, try to pay for things with cash rather than on a debit card. If you only take a certain amount of cash out with you on a shopping trip, you will begin to realize how quickly your wallet empties. Actually seeing the money leave your hand and enter the cash register will make the transaction seem more real than merely handing over your card.

Claire Cavanagh is a regular blogger from the UK. She writes on a number of topics including finance companies such as Secure Trust, travel and the media.

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