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Tackling the causes of debt: shopping

Tackling the causes of debt: shopping

The UK economy is picking up after years of tight belts and shoppers are once again loosening the purse strings. But while splashing out in the shops is good news for retailers, it’s not always the case for shoppers.

Shopping-inspired debt is arguably more of a problem now than ever. With the advent of online shopping it’s now incredibly simple to click and spend on your plastic. Mobile payments mean you can buy things wherever you happen to be, further increasing the number of ways you can part with your money.

All these purchases can mount up and many of us are finding it hard to cope with shopping debts.

Do I need this?

One potentially important cause of debt is buying items you don’t actually need and this is a particular worry for internet consumers. The average online shopper is currently spending £948 a year, according to the Money Advice Service, but is also hoarding £107 in unused items at home. Worryingly, a quarter of all online shoppers in the poll said they ‘can’t afford to save’ any money at all.

Amazingly, nine in ten of this portion of non-savers also claim it’s too much hassle to return unwanted items. The message here is clear: consider if you actually need an item before you buy it, and if you find you don’t, at least take the time to return it.

The charity’s Jackie Spencer says: “Hoarding unused purchases at home, rather than returning them when you can, makes no financial sense – it’s the equivalent of sitting on a pile of burning cash.”


As with any debt or money related problem, the first thing you need to think about is how much money you actually have each month to spend. Spending on credit cards is easy but it mounts up quickly. Savvy shoppers work out how much money they have to blow in the shops and stick to it. That way you can keep hitting the shops without needing to worry about debts mounting.

Budgeting may also stop you from ‘yo-yo’ spending – that is saving one month and then blowing it all the next. Figures from Standard Life show half (47 per cent) of us in Britain “adopt shrewd money saving tactics simply to offset overspending sprees”. By budgeting you can control this and avoid big blowouts on you credit card.


These measures can help people rein in their spending, but for some it’s already got too much and more drastic help is required. If you’re struggling with shopping addiction debt, you can find a range of tools to help, from a credit card calculator so you can figure out how much you owe, to a debt management solution to start repaying it.

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