Are You Coo-Coo For Credit Cards?

Sixteen percent of online shoppers are compulsive shoppers, according to research performed by the University of Richmond's Nancy Ridgway, Monika Kukar-Kinney and Kent B. Monroe. Are you one of them? Below, Ridgway provides guidelines to determine if you're a shopaholic.

Shopaholic Woman

From my research, I have learned that there are many more "shopaholics" (or more properly, 'compulsive buyers') in the United States than had been previously thought. In three studies using students, university staff members and buyers from an online clothing retailer, my colleagues and I found that 15.5 percent, 8.9 percent and 16 percent, respectively, were compulsive buyers. If the correct percentage is 8.9 percent, that represents 14 million women. If the percentage is closer to 16 percent, there are as many as 23.6 million women in the United States who can be classified as compulsive buyers. That is a tremendous number of shopaholics.

The warning signs

How can you tell if you are in danger of being shopaholic? Consider the following 10 statements and questions.

  • Think about your self-esteem. Self-esteem is how you feel about yourself. If you feel that it is low (i.e., you do not feel good about yourself), you could have one of the triggers for being a shopaholic.
  • Are you lonely? Even married people with children can feel lonely. This is another trigger for compulsive buying.
  • Are you depressed? Have you been treated for depression or believe that you are depressed? This is also a trigger for compulsive buying.
  • Are you stressed? Anxiety and stress are two additional triggers that can lead to overbuying.
  • Do you feel guilt? When overbuying, do you feel positive feelings, followed by shame and regret?
  • Are you secretive? Do you ever hide purchases that you make from family members or sneak them into your house?
  • Does your purchasing result in family arguments?
  • Do you have items in your closet still in the bags or with the tags still on them?
  • Do you feel a tension to buy something, and feel that you are in a zone when overbuying?
  • Test yourself. Take the newly created compulsive buying scale that consists of six items. If you score 25 or higher on the scale, you are likely to be a shopaholic (compulsive buyer).*

If you find that you score 25 or above, there is help. There are self-help books, therapists and websites around the country. One website that is helpful is run by a colleague named April Lane Benson. She is a clinical psychologist in New York and treats women with compulsive buying disorder. Her website is There is a lot of free advice on the website.


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Comments on "Are you a shopaholic? Take this test to find out"

Heather May 20, 2011 | 4:09 PM

I'm definitely a shopaholic to an extent. I love having nice things. Sounds materialistic maybe, but whatever. I'm a high maintainance 21 year old who just wants to have fun and look good doing it, but I buy all my things with my own money I've worked hard for and I'm still a good and giving person. I still do good for others. I use everything I buy and I will not shop if I don't have the money for it. I admit to using my credit card for some purchases, but only if I have the money in my savings account to pay off that purchase. I'm not in debt, and I still have almost $1,500 in my savings account for an apartment deposit :D I'd say I'm responsible. Next purchase I'm saving for: The Mulberry Alexa bag for $1,200. I'm going to look so fab and gorgeous toting that around! :D Nothing wrong with treating yourself and looking good

Katy June 22, 2010 | 3:49 PM

I am an admitted shopaholic!!

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