To Buy or Not to Buy: Why We Overshop and How to Stop

facebooktwitterlinkedinby feathershoppingI love to buy books. I must confess it gives me a thrill that’s difficult to deny. Years ago I would wait for the book to arrive via UPS.  I enjoyed opening the box, smelling the newly printed pages, even enjoying the feel of the book. Flipping through the pages I would try to quickly find where the choice kernels were hiding. Today my fascination is with Kindle. One click and it’s on my iPad. Within seconds I have the book. While it’s true I lose out on the physical sensation of the book itself, the immediate gratification is a strong conciliation prize.

Do I have a compulsive shopping disorder?

Compulsive shopping disorder or Oniomania derived from the greek Onios- for sale, and Mania- insanity, was first termed by Dr. Emil Kraepelin, a German psychiatrist in 1915. Mental health care professionals view it as a pathological impulse. The pathology comes from the fact that the purchase cannot be stopped. Even if it means not having enough money for basic necessities such as food and shelter. We have to have to buy those shoes or fancy watch. We have no choice.

I have been reading Dr. April Benson’s book, “To buy or not to buy. Why we overshop and how to stop”. I’m hooked. We all know there are some behavior patterns we wish we didn’t have.   Over buying is one. When buying is out of control and you can’t stop shopping, there is a problem.

Depending on which statistic you look at there may be as many as 25 million Americans who have a compulsive buying disorder. Think this issue is exclusive to women? Think again. 40% of the shopaholics are men.

With 24/7 seductive marketing, easy credit cards and one click shopping, over shopping presents a serious threat to the American way of life. Just think about all the people who are affected when there is a shopaholic in the family. Is it any wonder why the number one reason for divorce is financial?

So what’s the solution?   According to Dr. Benson it has to do with working through personal triggers and to the negative consequences of overshopping, which are called “aftershocks.  Once triggers and aftershocks are exposed, you look at them within the context of your values and vision. Her mantra- “You can never get enough of what you don’t really need.

According to Dr. Benson, when you overshop you are trying to fill emotional needs with material goods. The more you focus on acquiring material goods, the less satisfied you’re going to be.

The back of her business card sums it up nicely.

Why am I here?

How do I feel?

Do I need this?

What if I wait?

How will I pay for it?

Where will I put it?

I guess with  eBooks  her last point may be moot.


April Lane Benson, Ph.D., specializes in the treatment of compulsive buying disorder. She is the founder of Stopping Overshopping, LLC, an organization created to raise public awareness about compulsive buying, help individuals who suffer with this problem, and train professionals who want to enhance their theoretical and technical skills in working with overshopping clients. She is the editor of I Shop, Therefore I Am: Compulsive Buying and the Search for Self and the author of To Buy or Not To Buy: Why We Overshop and How to Stop. Her website is

Written by Jaimie Blackman

Jaimie Blackman

Jaimie Blackman — a former music educator & retailer— is a Certified Wealth Strategist & Succession Planner. Jaimie helps business owners maximize the value of their company through education & coaching. He is a frequent speaker at the National Association of Music Merchants, (NAMM) Idea Center and has spoken at Yamaha’s succession advantage.

As a financial literacy educator he has taught at New York University and has lectured at the 92nd Street Y, Marymount Manhattan College and CUNY.

His column is published in The Music & Sound Retailer and contributes to NAMM U online, as well as other industry trade magazines.

Jaimie is CEO of Jaimie Blackman & Company, President of BH Wealth Management, and Creator of MoneyCapsules® and the Sound of Money®.

To register for Jaimie’s live webinars, or to subscribe to his podcasts, visit

The purpose of this post is to educate. Our content should not be construed as advice. If legal, tax or other advice is required by the readers, professional advice should be sought.

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