Financial Infidelity: Debbie, Ron

Shopping Addiction

"I am addicted to shopping," Debbie says. "It gives me a high. It's like a drug to me. I have 200 pairs of shoes and boots, 75 pairs of sunglasses, 100 pairs of jeans, 75 watches. I'm still shopping, and I'm still spending. I find myself in the stores shopping almost on a daily basis."

Ron, her boyfriend of three years, says, "Where's all this money coming from? She's spending ridiculous amounts of money on unnecessary items. She should be spending it on heat, she should be spending it on rent. And that's a problem I see, and I don't want to address it because I don't want to fight with her."

"It makes me feel judged that Ron couldn't live with me because of the way I shop," Debbie says.

"She can't seem to get through the day without looking at another handbag to buy. I've never even seen her use a handbag, so I don't know what the heck she's buying them for," Ron says.

[AD]"I don't want to explain to anybody why I'm spending the money I do, or how much something costs. He's not my husband. He's my boyfriend. We don't live together," Debbie says. "Refraining from shopping is very difficult for me. I'll wake up in the morning, and I'm like, ‘Oh, my God, I'm so excited. I'm in this mood. I have to go shopping today.'" Debbie has only been able to go without shopping for two days. "I actually felt like I was having withdrawal symptoms."

"I absolutely made it clear to Debbie I will not fund any of this addiction. If Debbie can't get her shopping under control, then this relationship is on very thin ice," Ron says.

"Dr. Phil, I need help," Debbie says, from the deep recesses of her crowded closet.

Dr. Phil asks Debbie, "Is there any theory under which you think this is not pathological?"

"It's an addiction for sure," Debbie tells Dr. Phil.

"And it's not working, right? Whatever it is you're using to cope with, it's not working."

"It's not working. It's making me feel horrible. I shop to fill a void in my life. I'm not really sure what that is," she says.

Debbie has been in L.A. for one day, and Dr. Phil notes that she did go shopping. "You came all the way across the North American continent to see me about your shopping addiction " "

"How could I not go shopping?" she asks.

Debbie's shopping bags are brought out onstage. Dr. Phil pulls out souvenirs, like hats and clothing, including a t-shirt featuring manly muscles and a nipple ring.

"He needed this," she says, laughing.

"Yeah, Ron looks like a guy you would figure for a nipple ring," Dr. Phil quips.

Ron laughs.

"Seriously, you flew halfway around the world for your shopping addiction and went shopping for virtually nothing," he says.

[AD]"Right. I guess so," she says.

Dr. Phil asks about Ron and Debbie's relationship. They've been together for three years, and although it's a serious relationship, they don't plan to get married.

"I do love her," Ron says, "but I don't want to buy into that situation. I know that if it was ever possible for her, she would have me as her portable cash machine, and I can't afford it either. I have obligations as well."

Debbie says they also can't live together because there would be no room for all her stuff. Debbie has been married three times previously. She says her shopping played a role in the downfall of her marriages, and she is sick of her addiction.

During a previous interview, Debbie is interrupted by a knock on her door. It's a package being delivered. She opens it up and shows it off. "I just received a package from one of my online shopping sites that I visit on a daily basis, and let's see, what is it? Oh, my God, it's a really cool dress. Oh, my God, I love it. I'm going to wear it this weekend. This is really cute. I feel really excited that I just got this. It makes me feel really happy, and I can't wait to wear it and show it off," she says.

"I assume you wore that all over town that weekend," Dr. Phil says, referring to her dress that arrived during her interview.

"Haven't worn it yet," she says.

Debbie says she has at least 100 items that she hasn't worn.

Debbie shows off some of her purchases. 

Dr. Phil goes over what Debbie owns:

350 shirts
200 shoes
100 handbags
75 jeans
75 jackets
75 watches
75 sunglasses
60 belts
20 dresses
6 digital cameras

[AD]At least 100 items still have the tags attached, including: True Religion jeans: $245, denim blazer: $198, Juicy Couture coat: $268, AG Jeans: $190, Michael Kors jacket: $249, Dior sunglasses: $275, Veda jacket: $375, Air Jordan sneakers: $110

Dr. Phil does the math: She has spent about $189,000 on clothes and accessories!

What's at the root of Debbie's shopping addiction?

Dr. Phil breaks the news to her: "You have to completely detach from all of this stuff," he says.

"That what I have a really hard time with. I have an emotional attach " "

"You've got to sell it," he says bluntly.

"I need a professional organizer," she counters.

"You need to sell it," Dr. Phil reiterates. "You've got 100 items there, probably totaling $10- to 15,000 that you could take back and get the money for. The other stuff, you need to sell, whether you do it on eBay, or in a yard, or garage or whatever. You need to disconnect and get away from that stuff as defining you."


Dr. Phil offers her help to have a big sale.

"I guess I'm willing to do it. It's going to be very traumatic for me to let all of these things go," she says.

[AD]"I'm going to get you some skills to handle that," Dr. Phil tells her.

Dr. Phil quizzes his studio audience about their financial honesty. Are you guilty of financial infidelity? Take the test!