Psychologist Robin Goodman said compulsive shopping, or oniomania, is most common during the winter holiday months, as a remedy for mild depression or boredom. Most people are able to keep their spending under control, but a few develop a more serious problem and can accrue massive debt. Goodman said more than 10 percent of adults — and just as many men as women — display tendencies towards compulsive shopping.
"We feel good when we buy things," she told The Early Show co-anchor Julie Chen. "If we look good, we feel good. So we like to have an outfit or something on that makes us feel that way. When you were younger, when you did something good, or showed you love, they gave you something."
But it's important to know the signs that you might overspend so you can avoid a vicious cycle of shopping and buyer's remorse. Goodman offered some important tips to help you manage your urge to buy.
"Look at the triggers," she said. "That's one of the problems, is the availability. The stores are open later. You can shop on TV. You can shop on the Internet. That's certain sales that may be bad for you. You may need to look at what are those triggers and bring a friend that can help you monitor your impulses and take you maybe out of — off of the ledge, off of the shopping ledge."
"You want to identify what's really behind the emotion," Goodman said. "Mad at the boss, go to the mall, not a good idea. You want to deal with whatever's upsetting you. If you're lonely and buy things, get involved in activities. May want to get a hobby. If you're not feeling positive about yourself, surround yourself with some people that are positive and really are going to support you and reinforce your good qualities."
"Well, those are some of the simple hard things to do like cut up a credit card," she said. "Maybe, again, find something else to do. But, again, it's looking at what you're doing, maybe writing down, keeping a budget, sticking to your budget — maybe even putting in a reward and spending money in that budget. So then your behavior is matching what's realistic for your life and your finances."