I’ll notice it at the end of a big couple of weeks of work. Or when I’m struggling to put the pieces in place for my next project. I’ll find myself at a checkout, with an armful of things I didn’t come to the supermarket to buy. Or I’ll try on countless blue dresses, to match seamlessly with the countless blue dresses I already have in my wardrobe. Emotional spending doesn’t have to be a constant in our lives, but it can often become a coping mechanism when things get a bit rocky. It can range from the extra chocolate bars on our weekly shop through to racking up big purchases on our credit cards. And while shopping has been shown to stimulate pleasure hormones, shopping guilt does nothing of the kind. So if you want to feel great, long-term, ending emotional spending is a must. Here are 5 steps to take, inspired by Investopedia.
Keep A List
Once I started tracking my spending, it became fairly obvious that whenever I said ‘where has all my money gone?’ the answer clearly lay with my tendency to pick up a little something on the way to work, or spend more than I was anticipating at the supermarket. Impulse spending undermines our finances as it’s unconscious spending, so we’re not only spending capital, but often doing so at a rate we don’t comprehend. The key is to make a list, and not solely when we head to the grocers. Make a list of the five things you really want to purchase, and budget for them. If you go to spend any extra money, check the list and if the item isn’t on there, it doesn’t get bought. Walking out from the store, around the block or waiting 24 hours before purchasing are also great strategies.
Turn Ads Off
I would love to think I’m not susceptible to advertising but have come recently to acknowledge that advertisers have spent a lot of time thinking about human psychology, and they’ve got mine to a tee. So limit your exposure. Put the mute button on or record the tv shows you love. Throw out catalogues as soon as they appear in your mailbox, and learn to fade out ads on the internet. If you’re finding yourself still affected, think about what button each ad is pushing and remember it’s for their benefit and not ours.
Change The Script
Limit your visit to your favourite store to once a month, not every Saturday afternoon. If it’s on your way home, change your route. If you find yourself leaking money online, remove your automatic credit information on iTunes and the like. If you have to add it In every time, you’ll be less likely to buy quickly and on a whim. If you and your friends always head to the store, then why not have a coffee or a night in for a change?
Phone A Friend
If you’re struggling with spending, it’s better to get it out there. Preferably to as many people as possible, so you feel accountable about your spending. Ask a spouse or close friend for support, and to help remind you of your long-term financial goals when you get the urge to spend some unwarranted money.
Research shows that cravings come and go, irregardless of whether or not we satisfy them. Research also shows the best way to control a craving is to not think about it, i.e. distract yourself. Find something else to do. Feel agitated? Hit a gym, not Kmart. Call someone for a coffee. Think about things that will make you feel better in the long-term.