Apple pie, baseball… and shopping? Hitting the stores is one of America’s favorite pastimes, but for some consumers, it can lead to challenging issues. A new CouponCabin.com survey reveals that 15 percent of U.S. adults report their shopping habits have put them in debt, with 20 percent of saying the most amount of shopping debt they’ve been in exceeds $5,000. Two-in-five (41 percent) said at their peak, they’ve been in more than $1,000 of shopping debt. This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of CouponCabin.com from May 14th – 16th, 2013, among 2,052 U.S. adults ages 18 and older.
Racking up debt can happen quickly with frequent purchases. This may be likely for the 11 percent of U.S. adults who consider themselves to be “shopaholics,” (i.e. addicted to shopping and never missing an opportunity to buy something). All the shopping options on the Internet may be feeding shopping obsession, as 63 percent of U.S. adults think online shopping makes it easier to be a shopaholic.
Shopping too much can also be detrimental emotionally. Seven percent of U.S. adults said they have hurt relationships with family and friends by being addicted to shopping, while 20 percent have hidden purchases on purpose from close family or friends. Six percent said they have sought professional help (e.g. from a psychologist or other mental health professional) to help cut down on shopaholic tendencies.
“Shopping is a fun activity for many, but like anything, it should be done in moderation,” said Jackie Warrick , senior savings adviser at CouponCabin.com. “We’re bombarded with ads, daily deal emails and coupons every single day, so taking a step back and reflecting on your budget can be difficult. Take the time to pause before your next purchase and seek out ways to save money on items you really need.”
For some consumers, saving money can become its own obsession. Nearly half (47 percent) of U.S. adults consider themselves to be “saveaholics” (e.g. a person addicted to saving money, an extreme couponer, bargain hunter).
No matter what end of the spectrum consumers’ shopping habits are on, Warrick offer the following practical advice:
- Avoid impulse buying: It’s so easy to be tempted by candy and convenient items in the checkout line, or a limited online shoe sale, but do your best to stay away from purchases made on a whim. They add up quickly and can wreak havoc on your budget.
- Set shopping limits: Make a conscious effort to limit the number of minutes or hours you spend online shopping in a week, and only allow yourself a certain number of store visits. Write down these limits in an easy-to-view place so it stays top-of-mind.
- Perform the “do I really need this?” test: It’s so easy to convince yourself you “need” to buy something, when the reality is, you probably don’t. Walk away from something you want at a store or browse a different site and you may discover you didn’t really need the item after all.