Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my spending habits. I sometimes have these really awesome moments when I am keeping to my budget, spending wisely, and stashing lots of money away in savings. But then, I have my moments where I S.T.R.U.G.G.L.E. I shop impulsively. I buy things without consulting the budget. I develop a “I need it so I get to have it” mindset.
Does anyone else have this happen?! I always know this behavior is wrong. I always know that I shouldn’t be buying “x,y, and z.” Yet, I ignore that small voice of reason and just keep on spending. I have learned that these overspending urges are usually the result of a trigger — something going on in life (usually emotionally, for me) that causes us to want to overspend.
The other day, I got an urge to spend. Like, really really spend. I wanted to buy decorations for my home and a few new shirts. I also wanted to go out to eat and take my daughters on a back-to-school shopping spree — I just wanted to spend money! I was, fortunately, able to stop myself in this moment, and instead, I asked myself, “What brought on this urge to spend?” I realized that I was feeling frustrated. I was frustrated by my budget. I was frustrated that I was so limited with the amount of money I am “allowed” to spend each month. I just wanted to throw the budget in the garbage and show that budget that I can spend what I want, when I want!
Once I realized what I was feeling, I knew that I needed to change something about how I was operating. As a parent, I always, always choose to have money budgeted for the kids’ wants and needs instead of budgeting for my own wants and needs, which I am so happy to do for them, but I was limiting myself so much that I became frustrated — leading me to want to overspend! So, I decided to change my budget. Next month, I will be budgeting more money for my personal spending money. I am hoping that by doing this, it will eliminate my triggers and help decrease those spending urges. Everyone will have different triggers, and you won’t experience the same trigger every time. I tried to brainstorm a few possible overspending triggers and suggested solutions below.
1. Trigger: Overspending because you are bored and shopping is a form of entertainment.
Solution: Develop a new (cheap) hobby. Ask a friend to join you in the hobby to help keep you accountable and active with it.
2. Trigger: You lack confidence and are trying to boost your self-esteem with new purchases.
Solution: Read some self-help books from the library about confidence. Learn to develop inner confidence without needing to spend money.
3. Trigger: You are upset or emotional and use shopping as therapy.
Solution: Find a new way to release your emotions. Go for a run or walk. Call up a friend or watch a favorite movie. Find a free alternative to help you calm down.
4. Trigger: Feeling jealous when you hear how friends have been spending their money.
Solution: If your friends are a temptation to spend money, you need to distance yourself from them. I have unfollowed friends on social media before because their posts trigger my urge to spend money. If you need to make some new frugal friends, do it! Just do whatever it takes to delete that temptation.
5. Trigger: A friend invites you to do something that will encourage you to overspend — maybe a day of shopping or a weekend trip.
Solution: Be upfront with your friends. Tell them your spending limits and the activities that you will be able to or won’t be able to participate in. Kindly ask them to stop inviting you to the activities out of your budget.
What are your personal spending triggers? What are the solutions you have come up with to help overcome those triggers? Share with me in the comments so we can help each other out!
Melanie blogs over at Sweet Frugal Life. She is a stay-at-home mom to three darling kids and wife to a wonderful husband. She finds the most contentment when she is living a frugal life. Her hopes are to teach people that being frugal does not make life any less sweet. Being frugal only enhances the sweetness of life!
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