OK, I did it again; I bought a new handbag. Do I have a problem? This question is up for grabs. My mother says I get being “purse crazy” from her. For example, when I sent her a picture of the new handbag prospect, instead of saying “why?” she says “yummy!” My mother is a bad influence.

For me, shopping may be an issue but I’ve been in many closets and relative to what I’ve seen, my retail activity may be more of an indulgence than an addiction. I may have spent a lot of time shopping, but not a lot of money, relatively. However, given that time is our most precious commodity you could say that I wasted time (and I refuse to quantify) but I indulged this activity after hours and during the evening when there wasn’t a whole lot of brainpower available.

There’s also the implied assumption here that one should be “productive” 24/7, when that’s just not reasonable. How and when you spend the resource of your time is your decision to make. Given that, I don’t feel too guilty about perusing Macy’s or other online retailers while on the couch and my husband watches Law & Order. It’s when the time spent is a habit you fall into passively and there is a negative impact of your finances or space.

I knew one lady who spent more than $20,000 on clothing and jewelry in an 18 month period. Relative to her income, this was significant. You may have plenty of disposable income but still the desire to acquire is the driving factor in the situation. Often people get a thrill from their purchasing power but that feeling dissipates almost immediately once the item is secured.

However many people do have an addiction when it comes to clothes, hobbies, tools, music, etc. I’ve been in closets that are so jammed with stuff that you can’t close the door. The contents then spill onto the bedroom floors, into other rooms and other storage spaces. Often people think that if they get the right storage bin, closet or system that will solve the issue of too much stuff.

In most cases, storage is not the issue and people have enough space – they just have too much stuff. The exceptions I’ve seen are in old houses where the closets are exceptionally small and then we have to rely on other closets to contain out of season wardrobe and the like.

Again, your tendency to over shop may impact your ability to keep a functional home that you can live in safely and have friends over for a cup of coffee on occasion.

Sometimes a home can be overrun with toys by well-meaning parents, aunties and grandparents. It’s hard to play when the floor is already covered in toys. There is greater value in carefully chosen (and fewer) toys than the every hot toy on the market.

When there’s too much, it’s overwhelming to the child and not a blessing. Ideally, try to thin out toys on a regular basis, make them age appropriate and provide proper storage for safekeeping and easy cleaning of the space.

Also, if this can be done before the holidays and birthdays when the toys tend to come in, it will help reduce the volume. The parents have to be the gatekeepers here and the grandparents need to be supportive.

When shopping for a hobby or craft that you enjoy, keep in mind the reality of the application for that which you’re shopping. Does this item have long term value for your craft or project, or is it just the latest trendy gadget? Questions to ask before you buy:

• Do I need it?
• Where will I store it?
• Do I have something similar?
• Will this impact my budget?

Sometimes people over shop for emotional reasons or simply out of boredom. Check your feelings before you pull out your credit card. In the end it is useful to remember that “You can never get enough of what you don’t really need to make you happy.” (Eric Hoffer)