Shopping addiction


I have an extended family member with a shopping addiction. I’m not supposed to know about it, but I feel so helpless and just want to help this family! The wife is the one with the addiction. Yesterday morning she spent over $700 on jewelry, clothing, and storage supplies that she bought online and through the shopping channel on TV–within the time frame of about 20-30 minutes. Earlier in the week she also spent another approximately $450 or so on jewelry, clothing, and beauty supplies, all for herself. :frowning: This same woman tells her husband and children that they can barely afford to pay the bills. Some months they have about $50 to spend on *food *for the last 2-3 weeks of the month. :eek: It is a 4-member family with the husband and wife both close to retirement age (still working), a 17 year old daughter and a 24 year old son who are in school and staying with them (neither child works). The 17 year old was talking to us about it and told us she feels mad when her mom buys all these unnecessary things ($500 of the $700 was on jewelry for herself), and then stresses about not having money to pay the bills. We have proof that these purchases were made, so it’s not a case of an exaggerating teenager. And once again, these are extended relatives of ours and I really don’t want to see them in financial ruin!

I wish there was something we could do! Does anyone know of resources for shopping addictions for either the family/friends or the person actually doing the spending? Any thoughts would be highly appreciated! Thanks :slight_smile:



Here’s a place to start: (man I heart google)

Ohp this too:

Go tell her you care and do an intervention with her kids.

Poor lady, she needs help. My aunt does this and suffers from grave depression. She also gained 200+lbs. So sad.

Prayers momma, let us know what happens.


Thanks, KC. I think this woman also suffers from depression and she is also overweight. So sad, just not taking care of herself in a healthy way… and then I guess trying to compensate by giving herself lavish material gifts she can’t afford :frowning: She also does NOT take criticism well at all–gets very defensive. Intervention time will be interesting to say the least…


Anyone else have experience with this?


What does the husband say? If she is ordering from the shopping channel then she must be using credit cards right? Why does her husband not cancel them? Where does she get the money? does he give her money to pay household bills and food? If he does then he should just stop.


The husband is spineless. She is one of the most berrating wives I’ve ever met. The poor guy gets absolutely no respect from her. It is quite a dysfunctional family. He got walked out on by his previous wife. We think that may be why he never stands up to his current wife–dead scared of confrontation. It’s amazing that they’ve been married for almost 30 years!

They both work, but she is like the dictator of the family, giving each member a to-do list and micromanaging everything her hubby does, including the finances. :frowning:


I’m sorry, no practical advice here. Just I have to vent. This story makes my blood boil. Why do the nice guys tend to end up with these overbearing bossy women? The picture you paint is just so horrid. Why can’t they see that this is who they are marrying?

I don’t know, I guess after what I have been through in a marriage…I just hate to see how many people suffer through similar situations all because they are nice and accommodating. Thank goodness I’ve been through counseling and am learning to get my voice and say “No!”.

I guess in a way, to me it is just very offensive to see a man reduced to this. He is supposed to be the leader of the family, and how much better off would his family be if he really were in charge?


Grrr, it makes my blood boil too! I wish he would just stand up to her. Maybe one day he’ll have had enough and will…


Tough one… I know this isn’t charitable of me, but I always have a hard time feeling sorry for people who have shopping addictions when I see them on Oprah or other TV talk shows. I guess I just don’t know what it is like to be in their shoes.

I know that isn’t helpful to you… or her.

It is really too bad her husband is “enabling” ( to use Dr. Phil’s words) her to shop like that too. :frowning:

I guess it is more of one those illnesses that people love to “gawk” at. One of those illnesses that are hard to get help for because they are so hard to understand. I will pray for her.


Thanks for your prayers, Sina! :slight_smile:


Addictions such as these can be real, and very damaging, whether the woman has a berating or sweet disposition.

It might also be an indication of a deeper illness such as bipolar disorder or depression.

Unfortunately, what can the other spouse do if the addicted spouse is unwilling to seek help?

I hope the hubby is at least seeking legal advice to protect himself financially.


Hi Sam,
I suspect my MIL has this problem too. She is agoraphobic, overweight, shy and her poor dh works unGodly hours when he should be retired. They have no kids at home but she just keeps buying and buying… then yells at her kids for “ruining” their credit. I wish I could figure something out but I can’t even get her to go to things like my kids graduations… she is so uncomfortable out in public! I was actually amazed she came to our wedding, it’s that bad. So I wish I had some answers… but I really don’t. I tried to have a talk with her once about buying expensive gifts for the kids but it totally backfired and she didn’t talk to me for over 2 yrs.


Sadly, I was in your extended family member’s boat several years ago–I didn’t buy out of our means, but definitely pushed the envelope at times. I still enjoy shopping, but I don’t use it to make me happy anymore. That is what any ‘addiction’ is about really–it sounds crazy, but it’s almost compulsory when one is not happy, to cling to secular things/activities to somehow cultivate artifical (fleeting) happiness. Once my husband and I got back into our faith, I no longer clung to shopping for fulfillment. I do love to shop, but it’s much more controlled now–and I no longer look at it as a vice, like I did.

I would try to get possibly this person involved in some activities…maybe just ask her to join you (if this is possible) for a woman’s group function at the church, or something–maybe ask her to join a Bible study. This will be less intrusive, and will not be off setting to her–it will in fact help her, in disguise. So, maybe offer that–and see what happens. What does her husband say? My husband and I both control the money together, and if I was shopping until the cows come home, and we couldn’t pay necessary bills–he’d cut the credit cards, I’m afraid. So, the husband should step up and tell her that this needs to stop for their own preservation, really. But, in the meantime, you could see if you can interest her (divert her interest) into spiritual things–and hopefully, she will realize that what she is doing is very destructive to her and her family. I’ll keep her in my prayers.


Sounds like she is in total control of everything, I think the best thing you can do is pray for her and her family. I totally doubt she will take any kind of intervention kindly! she is running the whole show there. She will probably tell you to mind your own beewax, if she is working she will tell you it is her money and she can do what she wants with it.


I agree. That overbearing controlling kind of a person is not willing at all willing to even receive advice, let alone criticism.

Maybe the best thing you could do is reach out to the husband, support him and enourage. Maybe with more confidence he can take on this problem himself.


There are nice guys, and then there are spineless guys. They are not the same thing, and let’s not insult the nice guys by saying they are. Doormat does not equal nice! Besides, by being spineless, is he being NICE to his kids? No, he is shirking his responsibility to stand up for them and protect them. My husband is a “nice guy,” one of the ones who usually “finished last” when it came to women. And yet, those women don’t know what a gem they tossed! He is a strong, faithful, dedicated man who would spend all his strength for his family and give his life to protect us. He also stands up to me when I have done wrong, especially by my kids. He also stands up to his mother about family boundaries. And if I were spending the family into bankruptcy on the shopping channel, he would disconnect the cable and cancel my credit card so fast you would feel the breeze in New York.

The man in this situation has chosen to let his fear run his life. He didn’t have to make that choice. That choice does not make him nice, it makes him weak. I hate to think, if this woman is as overbearing and unkind as she has been portrayed, what it was like growing up in that house. If he allowed his children to be verbally abused by her, because of his own fear of being alone, then he certainly is not nice… he is an accomplice to child abuse.

The woman in this situation didn’t have to make the choice to spend all that money. She didn’t have to pick up the phone, dial all those numbers, wait on hold, and speak out a list of stuff she wanted. She doesn’t need therapy, she needs her family to tell her that her behavior is totally unacceptable, and that no one will support her in doing it anymore. Her husband, if he doesn’t want to leave her, should at least take over complete control of the finances. Everyone in the family should refuse to give her money, even if it’s $2 for lunch at McD’s. Cut off the supply of her addictive substance. Then, even if she doesn’t change, she is not destroying everyone else’s life along with her own. People cannot get in this deep without help and support. If the husband has allowed his family to be financially crippled, because he won’t get out from behind his fear and take action, then he is an accomplice to that too.

Shopaholics Anonymous may be very helpful, because the 12 step system teaches accountability, to both the “addict” and to the enablers around that person. Regardless of what the aunt does, her husband should start attending meetings.


What stood out for me in your post is the ages of the kids as they are both plenty old enough to get a part time job. I’d suggest that the kids work a little on the side to take care of their own needs (food, for example) but stay out of the rest of the stuff. Eventually their dad will either have to stand up to their mom or they’ll back themselves into big financial problems. Either way it doesn’t sound like talking to the mom is going to make anything better, so the next best thing is to encourage the kids to start becoming self-reliant because they may have to be on their own sooner than they think.


I agree with a lot of what you said. BUT you can’t lead a horse to water and make it drink. How could everyone in the house refuse to give her money? Her children can’t refuse, it is her money she works. Yep the husband should start attending meetings, but in that situation he most likely would not even entertain the idea. If he has lived like this for years, (30 yrs I think the OP said), then who is to say this is not the way he wants it?
Personally I think the 24 yr old should move out and get a place of his own. The 17 yr old she could maybe work part time and buy her own food. They are not going to change this woman, she is Lord over her own Castle so to speak!


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