Thanks to smartphones and tablets, people can access any store in the world from their home, office, the beach, an airport, the car in a traffic jam, even from their bed at 2am.

Access to items right from the palm of our hands is a shopper’s dream but this easy access can also become a nightmare.

Let’s get to the bottom of what defines a shopping addiction, what to do about it and take a quiz to take to see if you may have a shopping addiction.

Compulsive shopping is characterized by an obsession with shopping and buying behavior that causes adverse consequences. Sometimes it’s referred to as being a "shopaholic".

Like other addictions, it basically has to do with impulsiveness and lack of control over one's impulses.

Shopping addiction can destroy a person's life, family, and finances.

 What causes addictive behaviors?

No one knows for sure what causes addictive behaviors.

While the origin of addictions remains uncertain, why addicts continue their destructive behaviors is better understood.

Individuals will get some kind of high from an addictive behavior, endorphins and dopamine stimulate the brain and the person feels good, and if it feels good they are more likely to do it again.

There are a lot of commonalities among shopaholics and other addicts, while alcoholics will hide their bottles, shopaholics will hide their purchases.

Signs to look for

Spending over budget. 

Often times a person will spend over their budget and get into financial trouble, spending well above their income.

 A regular person might say ‘Oh, I can't afford to buy this.'

But someone who has an addiction will buy the item regardless because he or she will not recognize the boundaries of a budget.

Compulsive buying. 

When a person with a shopping addiction goes shopping, they often compulsively buy, meaning they go for one pair of shoes and come out with 10.

Chronic problem.

A shopping addiction is a continuous problem - it's more than the once-a-year shopping spree.

Some shopaholics report needing to buy something daily, even if it is a less expensive item - it’s the rush they are after.

Hiding the problem. 

Shopaholics will hide their purchases for fear of criticism and having an argument.

In some instances, they may have secret credit card accounts as well.

Because compulsive shopping affects mostly women, husbands will all of sudden be told their wife is $20,000-$30,000 in debt and the husband is responsible to pay off the debt, many times, these situations can end in divorce.

Vicious cycle. 

Some people will return purchases because they feel guilty.

That guilt can trigger another shopping spree, it’s a vicious circle.

In this situation debt may not be an issue because they're consistently returning items out of guilt, but a problem still exists.

Impaired relationships. 

Like with any addiction, relationships suffer.

Trust is compromised because the person covers up debt with deception.

They also begin to isolate themselves emotionally and physically once preoccupied with their behavior.

Shopping Addiction Quiz

Answer the following with either sometimes, always, or not at all.

1. Do you buy things you want even if you know at that moment you do not have the money to pay for it?

2. Is it difficult for you to save money?

3. When you have some extra cash that you could save, instead, you think of other things you would like to buy?

4. Do you cheer yourself up or give yourself a reward by “going shopping”?

5. Does more than a third of your income go to pay credit card bills, not including rent or a mortgage payment?

6. Have you had to move credit lines because you typically don’t have the money to pay off your credit line?

7. Do you pay the minimum balance on your credit card most of the time?

8. Are you inclined to keep buying more of your favorite things - clothes, makeup, cd’s, books, computer software, electronic gadgets - even though you do not have a specific need for them?

9. When and if you have to say “NO” to yourself, or control yourself from buying something you really want, do you feel intensely deprived, angry or upset?

Count up the number of “always” responses.

Anything more than 4, could be signs of shopping addiction (I had three, phew!)

For more information on Compulsive Shopping, please visit