Help! I'm a shopaholic

I can't stop shopping; my condition is so severe that my arms ache when I'm not holding bags. I even steal. Help me!

Miss Informed October 06, 2011
Dear Miss Informed,

I am a shopaholic. I can't stop myself from buying things regardless of whether I need them or not.  Even if it is a good day, and I am not blue, I just have to get out of my house and buy something, be it shampoo or a handbag. My condition is so severe that my arms ache when I'm not holding shopping bags. If the malls are closed, I press my nose to shop windows and try to smell the clothes I would have bought if I could get in. My fingers itch, and I feel the irrepressible urge to tear off price tags and make things mine. 

The problem is that I have just returned from college and my parents have cut me off financially. I am now a working woman and a salaried employee. However, I am constantly broke. If I get paid on the 1st, my money is gone by the 7th.

I am ashamed to admit that I have even stolen (a black and white headband) because I just had to have something new in my hands. I didn't have any money; I was desperate.

Please help me




Dear desperate-for-help-shopaholic,

Well, I have to say that I am impressed - owning up to your sins is difficult,  and you have come clean as a whistle.

They say acceptance is the first step to overcoming a problem. Since you have successfully cleared this step, lets move to the actual problem. We need to figure out the underlying reason behind your obsessive shopping.  Are you trying to fit in to a particular segment of society or is there an insecurity you are trying to cover up?

If it is the former reason, then don't let your friends determine the person you become - assert yourself and be proud of who you are. If your friends can't accept this, and you feel like you have to put up a certain image to 'fit in', rest assured, these people are not your friends. You would be much better off and happier by finding friends who accept and appreciate you just the way you are.

If, however, it is the latter problem, do not hide your insecurities behind shopping bags. Face them and try to overcome them. Buying something new will not change an aspect of yourself which you dislike. Purchasing a flattering dress, for example, will not cure your weight problem. You need to brainstorm and get down to the crux of what is actually bothering you, and what you are trying to hide. Once you have diagnosed the problem, look for treatment that targets this in particular. Shopping is only a short-term fix.

As far as the 'spending all your money' bit goes, go to your personal banker now! This is good advice for all salaried employees. Speak to your banker, and tell him/her to set aside 10% of your salary in fixed deposit- something which you cannot touch for at least 6 moths. Your new salary, to you, will be 10% less of what it was before. This way, by the end of 6 months, you can look forward to buying something nice with the money you have saved up.

Some amount of retail therapy is good for everyone. Set aside days in month where you allow yourself a budget to shop. If you feel like buying something small is what you need to satisfy yourself, I urge you to make it a habit to only do so once a week. Use the money that you have saved to buy yourself a 'big' present every six months.

Sweetheart, as far as the stealing-bit goes, are you telling me the complete truth? Have you only stolen just the once?

If he have stolen more than once, please go to a therapist - it can only help.

My advice ends here. It is up to you now to look in the mirror, and get down to the root of the problem. You are your own worst enemy - stop fighting against yourself and embrace your flaws. Trust me, you will be a happier person if you do so.

Do you have a problem that you can’t solve all by your lonesome? Miss Informed is here to help! E-mail her at
Miss Informed A Karachi-based social guru who will help untangle all the complex questions life throws your way. Ask Miss Informed for advice on romance, work, family or even how to make the perfect pumpkin pie!
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

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