COMPULSIVE buying has been recognised as a disorder but what do impulse purchases say about how you are feeling?
Tanith Carey finds out.
We reveal what your impulse purchases really say about how you are feelingCredit: Shutterstock
FEELING short of cash, having an off day or feeling insecure about a facial feature?
Then beware of overspending when you visit the make-up counter, which is deliberately laid out like a sweet shop to make the cosmetics hard to resist.
A study found that if you have a facial feature that you are self-conscious about, you are likely to buy more make-up than you needCredit: Shutterstock
If you feel you deserve a pick-me-up but don’t have a lot in your bank account, an item of make-up is something you can buy to make yourself feel better – without the guilt of a new pair of shoes or an outfit.
If you have a facial feature that you are self-conscious about, you are also likely to buy more make-up than you need, according to a study in The Journal Of Cosmetic Science.
Psychologist Sarah Gregg, author of Choose Happy: Easy Strategies To Find Your Bliss, says research has found that women who use make-up to camouflage – rather than just enhance – their features are more likely to buy too much.
She says: “Their dissatisfaction with how they look can fuel their spending habits and lead them to use too much.”
IF you feel less than confident about your figure or need some protection in social situations, you are most likely to splash your cash on a designer bag.
A flashy bag always cuts the perfect silhouette and can act as a barrier to hide behind, while showing off your wealth and your style “tribe”.
Psychologist Sarah Gregg says ‘If you buy too many expensive bags, it could be that you sense what psychologists call intra-sexual competition’Credit: Shutterstock
Therapist Olivia James, of harleystreetcoach.com, says: “Think about the mythology of owning a Hermes Birkin bag. It’s like joining an exclusive club. Plus, if nothing fits you at a designer boutique, you can always buy a beautiful bag.”
However, there is another message you could be sending. If you carry an expensive bag, it hints to love rivals your partner is showering you with gifts – even if you bought the bag yourself.
Psychologist Sarah Gregg says: “Women use expensive items such as designer bags as a subtle signal to other females that their partner is dedicated to them, no matter who paid for the item.
“If you buy too many expensive bags, it could be that you sense what psychologists call intra-sexual competition.”
WE often buy clothes to fit the ideal of who we would like to be, rather than who we actually are.
Psychologist and author Sarah Gregg, of thepowertoreinvent.com, says: “Clothes send non-verbal cues to other people about our identity.
Sarah explains ‘overbuying items you don’t wear can be a sign you are drifting into a fantasy world of who you want to be’Credit: Getty
“But overbuying items you don’t wear can be a sign you are drifting into a fantasy world of who you want to be.
“For example, some shoppers might feel drawn to buy a revealing bikini, imagining themselves strutting confidently along the beach on their next holiday.
“Or they might invest in a dramatic long dress for a special event.
“But if most of these items just end up hanging in your wardrobe and are never worn, it’s a sign they are not aligning with the person you really are.”
ALREADY got your eye on the latest phone, even though the one you have still works perfectly well? It might be a clue that you don’t want to be left behind.
Psychologists say the newest handset is a fast way to show off wealth and status.
Therapist Olivia James says ‘If you are desperate to get the latest model, it might mean you want to impress at any cost’Credit: Shutterstock
Therapist Olivia James says: “If you are desperate to get the latest model, it might mean you want to impress at any cost.”
Psychologist Sarah Gregg echoes this: “Studies show that people who upgrade their products early are more concerned with image than costs.
“They tend to do less research than those who upgrade later, as it’s less about the actual phone and more about social identity.
“Having the latest phone makes people feel part of the in-crowd. When the phone gets an upgrade, so does their sense of self – and that feeling can be addictive.”
IF you are self-conscious about your size, enjoy collecting things or like being waited on hand and foot, shoe shops might be your first port of call.
Katie Owen, of wide-fit shoe company Sargasso & Grey, says: “No other item in our wardrobes makes us instantly look taller, thinner and more glamorous.”
Psychotherapist Diana Parkinson reveals ‘When shopping, sales assistants bring boxes and kneel at your feet, it evokes the feeling of being waited on’Credit: Shutterstock
Professor Suzanne Ferriss, co-editor of the book Footnotes: On Shoes, says: “Shoes are collector’s items, whether we perceive them that way or not. Think of how they’re often stored artfully, like sculptures.”
Psychotherapist Diana Parkinson says new shoes give us a status fix, releasing the feel-good chemical dopamine.
She adds: “They’re like works of art. When shopping, sales assistants bring boxes and kneel at your feet.
“It evokes the feeling of being waited on.”
FEELING a bit low and in need of a confidence boost?
Therapist Olivia James says celebrity perfumes in particular allow you to “borrow” the glamour of stars like Jennifer Lopez, whose fragrance Glow has been one of the best-selling perfumes for nearly 20 years.
Psychologist Sarah says of perfume buyers ‘overusing it could be a destructive way of escaping unpleasant emotions’Credit: Shutterstock
Buying more fragrance than you need may even be a sign you are depressed, according to Professor Yehuda Shoenfeld of Israel’s Tel-Aviv University.
He said: “Women who are depressed also lose their sense of smell and may overcompensate by using more perfume.”
Psychologist Sarah Gregg agrees: “Our sense of smell plays a key role in mood, so perfume can be bottled confidence.
“But overusing it could be a destructive way of escaping unpleasant emotions.”
HAVE all those Zoom calls made you spend a fortune on your home so you don’t suffer “house-barrassment”?
Therapist Olivia James, of harleystreetcoach.com, says we might be tempted to overspend on our homes to enhance impressions of our wealth.
Therapist Olivia James thinks that those who overbuy homeware want to enhance impressions of wealthCredit: Getty
She says: “We want others to say, ‘Their place is incredible – they must be very successful to afford all that!’”
When the world outside seems harsh, it is natural to want to spend more on the place where we have some control – our home and garden.
“It’s a basic need to be accepted by others and be seen to be doing well. This helps us feel more secure at a difficult time.”
TOTS don’t know the difference between designer brands and high street gear.
So if we spend a fortune on their clothes, it might be to make ourselves feel better, says psychologist Sarah Gregg, author of Choose Happy.
Parents who overbuy kids’ clothes usually attempt to make up for feeling deprived as youngstersCredit: Shutterstock
We might buy more toys than they need because it gives us a dopamine hit in the brain bigger than if we buy for ourselves.
Part of the thrill of giving is the anticipation of how happy the other person will be – and children tend to show more joy.
Some parents might overbuy to make up for feeling deprived as youngsters.
Allison Pugh, professor of sociology at the University of Virginia in the US, says: “Parents don’t like to think about their kids being left out, especially if they are already feeling ‘less than’ in any way.
“That can really motivate their spending.”
GET HELP FOR YOUR HABIT
EXPERTS recently shared a guide to diagnose compulsive shopping-buying disorder (CSBD).
Symptoms include accumulating debt, hiding purchases from loved ones, breakdowns in relationships with friends and family, compensating negative feelings by buying things and trying to stop but being unable to.
For support and information, visit beatingaddictions.co.uk.