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PAINTER: Having a shopping addiction can be costly

• Mar 12, 2018 at 4:00 PM

I’ve been reading a lot lately about addictions. 

What piqued my interest on this subject was a recent “Today” show segment hosted by Megyn Kelly. She interviewed author and writer H.G. “Buzz” Bissinger on his addiction to shopping. He acknowledged that he is a “shopaholic.”

The interview was especially interesting to me because Bissinger’s book, “Friday Night Lights,” is one of my all-time favorites. For those of you who haven’t read the book, Bissinger wrote about high school football in Texas. He spent a year chronicling the 1988 Permian High School Panthers, a perennial high school football powerhouse.

His book was later adapted into a movie and television series. Because I lived in Texas for six years and wrote about high school football, as well, I’ve always been fascinated with his writing.

Bissinger also wrote a definitive magazine article on Stephen Glass, a New Republic writer who was eventually fired for fabricating stories. His article was also adapted for a movie.

So, I just never pictured Bissinger, a famous author, as being a shopaholic. But there he was on national television telling millions that he was a shopping addict.

It turns out that Bissinger, who obviously is well off financially, spent nearly $600,000 on clothes in three years.

In 2013, Bissinger wrote a lengthy magazine column on his shopping addiction. He wrote that, during his clothes-buying spree, he bought 81 leather jackets, as well as dozens of boots and gloves.

“I have an addiction. It isn’t drugs or gambling. I get to keep what I use after I use it. But there are similarities: the futile feeding of the bottomless beast and the unavoidable psychological implications,” he wrote.

Bissinger said his appearance on the “Today” show was aimed at warning about the dangers of addiction and that there is help available. He told Kelly that he has a therapist who is trying to help him deal with his addiction.

His case, of course, is extreme. Most of us don’t spend $600,000 on clothes in three years. But his shopping addiction warning is something that needs to be taken seriously. In an article in PsychGuide.com, an Indiana University professor was quoted as saying, “Some people develop shopping addiction because they essentially get addicted to how their brain feels while shopping.”

What are some of the signs that we may have this addiction? The Huffington Post reports that there are seven signs that you may be addicted to shopping. They are:

(1) Having unopened or tagged items in your closet.

(2) You often purchase things you don’t need.

(3) An argument or frustration sparks an urge to shop.

(4) You experience a rash of excitement when you shop.

(5) Purchases are followed by a period of remorse.

(6) You try to conceal your shopping habits.

(7) You feel anxious on the days you don’t shop.

Those warning signs are good information for all of us. We probably all have been guilty of at least some of the signs. I must admit that I sometimes feel remorseful after making a purchase and have sometimes have questioned myself as to whether a purchase I made was something I really needed.

Online shopping especially has made it tempting to binge shop. With a touch of a button, you can easily make a purchase. We get bombarded with advertisements on our computers or mobile devices that make purchasing items even more tempting.

According to Fitness Magazine, some of the things you can to do manage your shopping habits are limiting use of credit cards, sticking to a shopping list and consider ways to making it harder to spend money, such as making your money more difficult to access.

I’m glad that Bissinger is speaking out about his addiction. I hope he gets the help he needs. For all of us, his story is a good lesson on how easy it is to become addicted.

— By Len Painter, Tribune community columnist

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