Confessions of a Shopaholic May Reflect British Women Spending Habits
If you’ve ever read the book, Confessions of a Shopaholic, by Sophie Kinsella, you will know that it doesn’t quite follow the recently released movie by the same title, mostly because the main character Rebecca or Becky, is not from New York, but rather London. But the book and the movie share one big similarity, the main character is indeed a shopaholic by the best (or worst) definition. Ironically, the leading lady in Confessions, who can’t pass up a full price designer handbag, let alone a sale, may not actually be too far off from real British women and their overspending practices.
A 2007 survey from Uswitch revealed that at least 3% of the British population are shopaholics, with more than 765,000 of these being British women. Shopaholics are defined as people who shop at least once a week and spend an average of £182 per month (about $260), far above the national average of £86 ($122) a month. Furthermore, these spendthrift women will go to any length to get their fix for fashion. More than 2% of British women admitted to sneaking fashion purchases on their significant other’s credit card, while 16% have admitted to lying about how much they spend on their purchases. These out-of-control spending behaviors have left British women with an average of £5,000 ($7,100) in unsecured debt.
Despite Economy, British Women Still Spending
What’s even more surprising, is that even with the poor economy, British women have reported that they will continue with their extravagant spending habits. In 2008, Elle UK surveyed 4,000 British women and found that more than 1/3 admitted their fashion shopping habits have not changed due to the economy. Furthermore, 70% of British women said they thought about buying new clothes “nearly every day”, while 1/4 said they spent between £25 and £100 ($35 and $142) a month on shoes alone.
Are you a shopaholic? Take the test and find out.
God knows that you don’t have to be British to be considered a shopaholic. If you’re worried that your spending habits may be unmanageable, a simple test can tell whether you are just a typical shopper or if you are truly a shopping addict. The test, which was published in the December 2008 issue of the Journal of Consumer Research, includes six statements, for which you rank on a 7-point scale, with 1= strongly disagree and 7=strongly agree. Using this scale, decide how strongly you feel about the following statements:
- My closet has unopened shopping bags in it.
- Others might consider me a “shopaholic.”
- Much of my life centers around buying things.
- I buy things I don’t need.
- I buy things I did not plan to buy.
- I consider myself an impulse purchaser.
Now, add up your total score. If your score is 25 or higher, you would be considered a compulsive buyer, or a shopaholic.
If you are a shopaholic, you may want to curb your purchases until you get your shopping habits under control. Sounds simple, but like all addictions, a shopping addiction can be hard to break. There are many books and Web sites that can help shopaholics change their ways and many offer step-by-step guides on how to do this. For example, GetRichSlowly.org suggests the following:
6 Steps to Curb Compulsive Shopping
- Get rid of your credit cards. Although, you still need to pay them off!
- Use cash to pay for everything. You may be less likely to spend if you actually see your dollars leaving your wallet.
- Keep a diary of your purchases. Log everything you spend your money on. You may be surprised or even disgusted at how much you’re spending at Starbucks!
- Trick yourself into spending less or not spending at all. Do this by making yourself wait 30 days to buy new clothes, gadgets, etc.
- Avoid temptation by not going into your usual spending haunts.
- Ask for help from friends/family or even a professional.
If you’re still not sure how you rank on the shopaholic scale, read the Confessions book or see the movie. If you can relate to Rebecca, and feel a stinging guilt because you do, then you may want to reevaluate your spending, not to mention avoid the spring and summer sales at Macys.