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Compulsive Buying Disorder - getting into debt

By Staff Writer
Many people joke about being a ‘shopaholic’, however, what they don’t not know is that Compulsive Buying Disorder (CBD) is a real condition that people can suffer from.
 
Not only do people suffer from a compulsion to buy things, but this compulsion can get people into a lot debt.
 
World Psychiatry journal released a study reviewing CBD by Dr Donald Black from the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine. According to the report, “CBD is characterized by excessive shopping cognitions and buying behaviour that leads to distress or impairment.”
 
The report added: “Compulsive shopping tends to run in families, and these families are filled with mood and substance use disorders.”
 
According to the research, 85% of subjects involved in a study on CBD revealed that they were concerned about their CBD-related debt. Furthermore, 74% of the participants “felt out of control while shopping.”
 
Adrian Furnham, a professor of psychology at University College London and the Norwegian Business School, has noted: “There are economic, psychological and obvious utilitarian benefits of most consumer purchases. We need food and clothes and means of transport. But nowadays more and more products are sold not on their technical features, but rather their psychological benefits. It’s all about identity, image and values. This means people can rely on, even be addicted to, specific forms of consumerism because it offers a sort of psychological crutch.”
 
However, it is still not certain whether it is an obsessive-compulsive disorder, an addictive disorder, or a mood disorder.
 
In his research, Black said: “Persons with CBD are preoccupied with shopping and spending, and devote significant time to these behaviours. While it might be argued that a person could be a compulsive shopper and not spend, and confine his or her interest to window shopping, this pattern is uncommon. The author's personal observation is that the two aspects - shopping and spending - are intertwined. Persons with CBD often describe an increasing level of urge or anxiety that can only lead to a sense of completion when a purchase is made.”
 
Black highlighted that CBD is prevalent all year round for those who suffer from it. However, he noted that the urge to shop may be worse during the Christmas period, or around birthdays of family and friends.
 
Getting into debt
 
According to Black, studies have revealed that “the most severe forms of CBD are found in persons with low incomes who have little ability to control or to delay their urge to make impulsive purchases.”
 
One of the potential risks for a person suffering from CBD would be any form of credit, as it gives them access to the funds needed to buy things that they really do not need. This includes credit cards and store cards.
 
An article by Bruce Cameron, a financial industry consultant, on DebtBusters’ website said that “credit card debt is the Achilles heel of many people” The main reason is that the banks make it extraordinarily easy for you to use a credit card to buy just about anything you want. But credit card debt is unsecured debt – in other words, you do not have to provide any security for it, such as an assurance policy – and that means higher interest rates.
 
“It is very easy to run up debt once you have a credit card in your hand, because, unlike cash, you can spend a lot more than you have.”
 
Cameron added: “Credit cards are particularly dangerous because they allow you to finance consumables, such as food and clothing, through debt. Consumables, which have no monetary value from the moment you buy them, should never be purchased on credit.”
 
With regards to store cards, Cameron noted that more stores are offering this form of credit, which also makes it easier for people to buy items immediately, regardless of whether or not they can afford it. “You would not be quite as quick to buy if you were restricted to paying cash. As with credit cards, interest payments are high if you fail to pay on time. Many people build up a wallet full of store cards, but the more you have, the more likely it is that your mountain of debt will grow. Eventually, the total amount you have to repay every month can break your budget.”
 
With such easy access to seemingly ‘instant’ cash, it is easy for people, particularly those the suffer from CBD, to get into debt, as their compulsion to buy could very well lead them to take out additional credit or store cards to enable them to buy the items that they desire.
 
When diagnosing CBD, Black stressed that normal shopping behaviour should be ruled out. He highlighted that, particularly in developed countries, shopping is a popular and common pastime, especially for women.
 
 “[Frequent] shopping does not necessarily constitute evidence in support of a diagnosis of CBD. Normal buying can sometimes take on a compulsive quality, particularly around special holidays or birthdays. Persons who receive an inheritance or win a lottery may experience shopping sprees as well,” he said. 

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