Some people have strong fears of spiders or confrontation, others are extremely picky with the food they eat or people they date. I on the other hand have a different kind of fatal flaw, one that will cause my downfall in the end: I’m addicted to shopping. I know I’m not the only one; I’m 99% sure TLC made a show about it one time. It’s a problem that reaches men and women, the young and the old, and even the rich and the poor. But how does it begin? Are we born this way?

I personally don’t think so. I believe my shopaholism was engraved into my mind ever since I knew what the term “shopping” was. For those who think otherwise, I present to you below: the stages of life through the eyes of a shopaholic.

Ages 4-5

Yes, I promise it starts this early. Most likely, your earliest memories are from this age range, and for a shopaholic, it’s the memory of their first gift. They remember what it was like to receive something without actually doing anything for it, even if it was just a teddy bear on their birthday. The concept of obtaining without caring how they got it begins here.

Ages 6-10

The birthday parties keep coming and family no longer wants to spend money on toys, so what do they give you? CASH. Parents try to teach you responsibility and give you some chores, what do you receive in return? CASH. This is when the acts of shopaholism actually begin. Young shopaholics have so many Lincolns and Hamiltons, and lucky for them, things are generally cheap in kid world, especially because brands aren’t really a thing yet. It just keeps raining Barbies and hot wheels (do kids even play with those anymore?).

Ages 11-14

Ah, the lovely middle school days. I can tell you first hand, at least for most girls, that any kind of money I came in contact with these years was spent solely on items pertaining to appearance. I’m talking all the black eyeliner, rainbow eye shadows, and graphic tees my wallet could handle. Again, these years only feed into the shopaholic life because everything was SO DAMN CHEAP.

Ages 15-17

Once high school kicks in, a shopaholic can either go one of two ways: the brand snob or the quantity queen. The brand snob is one who only buys, well, name-brand items, even if they have to save three of their minimum wage pay checks for one item. The price doesn’t really matter to them because they know they can save enough sooner or later. The quantity queen on the other hand is one who buys an abundance of stuff just because they can (this was me). The second their paycheck hits their account, it’s gone, probably spent at the sale sections of multiple stores. Both of these shopaholics end in the same way: an empty bank account.

Ages 18-22

Yay College! If you though this meant a shopaholic becomes responsible, you thought wrong. College is the prime time for shopaholics, and the time where several people become one. Finally on their own with family sending them money left and right to make sure their still eating, it’s like Christmas. Some budgeting skills are obtained in this age range, but in reality only makes the shopaholic spend more money, just on a variety of things, not to mention, fruity drinks every Thursday night need a whole category for themselves.

Ages 23-29

At this point, the shopaholic is out of school, and hopefully not out of money. They could be married and even have a few kids. Though the sights have shifted to their home and family and away from themselves, this does not stop a shopaholic. “Kids’ clothes are so low-priced, why not buy 10 of everything?” “Who knew home decorating was so fun??” “Now that I can finally have a dog of my own, I bought us five!” These are just a few defining phrases of someone with shopaholism.

Ages 30+

It doesn’t stop there. Once a shopaholic reaches 30 and has yet to break their addiction, they’re basically lost forever in a sea of credit cards, coupon codes, and empty shopping bags. They will forever splurge on things for the home, random clothing items for others that they never want, big items like vacations and cars, and not to mention spoiling the grandkids. If you ever get the chance to read the will of a shopaholic, I can guarantee they’ll want all their remaining funds to be spent on their funeral.

Shopaholism is a problem most people will face at some point in their life. It can develop at a young age all from a birthday party, from the need to shop to feel complete, or even from the love of hitting up downtown every weekend (though at that point, you might have another addiction on your hands). Together, we can fight shopaholism, well, maybe after one more sale.