Identifying Spending Triggers

How many times have you come home from a day of running errands or stopping by the store for a few things after work and discovered you’d spent your hard-earned money on several mindless purchases?


There are three major causes for overspending or spending on unnecessary impulse items. Keep reading to see which category you fall into.


1. Comfort: You’ve had a long, stressful day or you are anxious about several tasks coming up and you think “You know what would make me feel better? A nice *insert your go-to comfort purchase here*.”  The only problem with this plan is that a new pair of jeans, a fancy coffee drink, or a cute purse will only bring temporary relief from the situation or circumstances you’re struggling with. The issues causing you stress will still be there after you’ve blown 20 bucks. You’d be better off sitting down and coming up with a plan of attack for your problems instead of temporarily masking them for a day or two by spending.


2. Boredom: Sometimes we think buying something new will create some excitement in our lives. Use boredom instead to spark your creativity. Rearrange your furniture instead of buying a new coffee table. Shop your closet (or a friend’s) for new outfits instead of running to the mall. Create a new playlist from your favorite songs and blast it through the house while you organize your kitchen. If it’s chronic boredom you wrestle with, take the money you would have spent on all those temporary fix items and invest in skydiving lessons, a cooking class, or a new hobby you’ve always wanted to try.


3. Materialism: Yearning is part of the human condition. In fact, the lack of desire for anything is considered a symptom of depression, so I’m not saying we have to stop wanting things altogether. However, continuing to fill your house with “stuff” in hopes you’ll eventually be satisfied is as useless as saying, “I’ll just do heroin this one time and that’ll be enough.” Yes, I just compared materialism to drug abuse. Ever found yourself feeling a little heady when you bought some frivolous piece of clothing or home decor? That’s because our culture facilitates an addiction to consumerism and unless we learn to exercise financial self-control, we will become spending junkies.  Instead of focusing on “things”, how about focusing on ways to spend more quality time with your spouse or family and friends? Recalibrate your consumer-driven minds by readjusting your priorities and finding ways to improve the quality of your relationships as well as learning how to appreciate the simple pleasures in life.


I definitely struggle with all three of these spending triggers from time to time, but by far comfort is the one that always gets me. What about you? Did you see yourself in one of the scenarios mentioned? Even if you don’t share below, take an honest look about what causes you to spend without thinking and utilize some of the alternative methods I provided or maybe suggest some of your own that you’ve found to be effective.


Happy budgeting!


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