Do you overspend every single month and just cannot seem to understand why? Everyone has a spending trigger and we will learn how to identify them and get control of them.
(This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, please see my disclosure.)
What is Impulse Spending?
You see it, you want it, you buy it. There are no financial or need based decisions behind the purchase. It is unplanned and oftentimes there is guilt associated with the purchase afterwards. You are buying things to fill a void.
According to CNBC, consumers spend up to $5400 per year in impulse purchases. Holy crap, that’s a lot of money!
We are all guilty of spending a little too much once in a while, but when you do it all of the time and it becomes a habit, your finances can suffer. Shopping becomes an addiction. You can become like an addict looking for that next high.
What is Your Spending Trigger and How to Control It
Many people spend money for the pleasure of it, in other words, emotional spending. They go to the mall and hang out with friends and family and shop, shop, shop. There is a lot of peer pressure going on when you shop with a crowd.
Picture this – you had a bad day or week or maybe you are just down in the dumps. You know that a day at the mall will make you feel better. Retail therapy, do you know that saying?
We live in a world of instant gratification. We see it, we want it, we buy it. You may feel a high when you are shopping and buying and then feel depressed when you get home with all those bags and no money.
In order to improve your finances and stop impulse spending or get a handle on your spending addiction, you need to have a solid reason WHY you want to stop.
Do you want to pay off debt?
Do you want to save for a vacation?
Do you want to save for a huge down payment on a house?
Do you want to retire early?
Are you looking for financial independence?
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What is Your Spending Trigger?
In order to reach your goals, you first need to figure out what your spending trigger is.
Common spending triggers can be boredom, depression, stress, emotions, advertisements, keeping up with the Joneses. How about walking into Target and seeing all the things? Does perusing through Pinterest just make you want to buy everything you see so that your house looks like Joanna Gaines designed it?
So let’s ask the question – WHY does that trigger your spending? Why, why, why, dig deep for the answers. Grab a sheet of paper and start writing. What are your feelings around that trigger and why do you feel the need to spend money to make you feel better?
Why do you always want to spend money?
I am not going to lie, this is emotional and there might be some tears and harsh feelings. But in order to change some of our behaviors around money, we need to really search inside ourselves. My best advice is to start a journal. Write it out. This will be a process and it may take weeks or it may take months. You can do this!
Where do You Spend the Most Money?
The mall? Online shopping? Amazon? Lowe’s? Restaurants? Craft stores?
So how do you avoid these triggers? It’s pretty easy to say, just don’t go out to dinner or avoid the mall, but we need real actionable ways that you can avoid your urge to overspend.
How to Avoid Your Spending Triggers
- Leave the credit cards at home.
- Carry cash only when you shop. You will have a budget for that cash and if it is for groceries and you buy new shoes instead, well, I hope you like the way those shoes taste.
- Shop alone. Yep, I know that’s not fun at all. But, think about this. You have to go to the mall or the store for a specific item, say a new shirt for a job interview. If you go with your girlfriends, you are more likely to spend more money shopping and you probably will feel the need to have a bite to eat or a drink together. If you are alone, in and out, purchase complete. Done, no extra money spent.
- Avoid the stores. Don’t go to the mall. If you only need one thing, order it online and be done with it.
- If online shopping is one of your spending triggers, avoid Amazon. Get rid of your Prime membership (gasp!) Sometimes we have to take drastic measures if we want drastic results!
- If Walmart or Target is your big trigger, and you buy groceries there, use that wonderful new service that many stores are now offering, curbside grocery pick up. You will not be able to see all the pretty things in the store because you will NOT EVEN GO IN THE STORE.
- Create a budget.
- Find new forms of entertainment. If going shopping with your friends is your idea of entertainment, then go to the park or watch a movie at home or go to the beach.
How I Avoid My Spending Triggers
Man, was I a spender! I racked up credit card debt, took out a home equity loan to cover those debts, and did it again. I am not proud of that time in my life, but I can tell you here, right now, that I learned my lesson! We would have our house paid off by now. We would be closer to early retirement than we are now. Yep, just like you, I have regret.
I felt a lot of shame as well. Shame that we could not do things as a family because of my overspending. It was hard to look my kids in the eyes and tell them no sometimes.
I have 2 credit cards now. One for my business and one for personal, for when we travel. That is it. I do not shop with them in my wallet. I actually carry a very tiny wallet now that has my license, my debit card and cash in it. That is it.
I do not go to Target unless it is for a very specific reason. I know that Target is one of my spending triggers. I know I can easily spend $100 every time I walk into either Target or Walmart. If I have to get groceries at Walmart, I stick to the grocery side and stick to my list. I do not even look at the pretty things.
The Benefits of Not Overspending
Do you dream of sticking to your budget every month and not overspending? You could start saving for your child’s college fund, or that family vacation you have wanted to go on for the past 10 years. You literally will be changing your/your family’s future. Can you imagine that? No more regret.
Visualize here, my friends. Start a vision board. What are the things you could accomplish financially if you controlled your impulsive spending? Start a list, create a vision board and use that as your wallpaper on your computer. Print it out and stick it on your bathroom mirror. Frame it and put it on your desk or nightstand. Keep it front and center in your life so you can visualize your life differently than it is right now. That should be all the encouragement you need to get started.
Start today, right now. Make a pact with yourself. Whatever your biggest trigger is, avoid it for the next 30 days. And be sure to reward yourself at the end of those 30 days. No, I do not mean go shopping, but buy yourself a special drink or take a night off and curl up with your favorite book. Rewards do not have to be expensive, and you deserve it!
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