Bargain hunting may save money, but for some people, looking for the next "great deal" becomes an addiction. The call of the clearance rack wins out over practical matters - like whether you need or want what you found, or even have a place to put it.

April Lane Benson is the editor of the book I Shop, Therefore I Am. She says that when it comes to bargain-hunting addictions, what people buy isn't as important as how big the price reduction is. In fact, the bigger the price cut, the more tempting a purchase is. After all, if something's 80% off the original price - you're saving 80 percent! What you may not consider is that by not buying, you'll save 100%.

Bargain addicts also make illogical purchases, like grabbing up sale-price auto parts for cars they don't own, or bargain kid's clothes for children they don't have. It's no laughing matter. Studies show that almost 1 in 6 adults have shopping addictions and experts say it's as powerful as a drug or alcohol addiction - and can leave people drowning in debt.So, why is a bargain-hunting addiction so common?

Tim Kasser, a professor of psychology at Knox College in Illinois, says it's a way for people to ease insecurities, and feel more competent and in control. In fact, shopping addicts often don't realize they have a problem, even when the bags and bills start stacking up. It usually takes a big event to bring it to their attention, like divorce, a new baby, unemployment, or retirement. Or they simply max out their credit cards, and have no more spending power. So, how can you tell if you're a bargain junky? Here are the five tell-tale signs:

  • You hit sales and clearance racks when you feel angry or blue. Or you feel guilty after shopping and hide your purchases.
  • You spend more money than you can afford.
  • You see sales as opportunities you can't pass up.
  • Another clue you're a bargain addict: You spend so much time tracking down deals that it intrudes on your time with family and friends.
  • You often forget what you bought, and find things in your closets you've never used.If that sounds like you - and you'd like tools to help stop the over-shopping - check out the website: DebtorsAnonymous.org.