After working hard for your money, it’s natural to want to splurge on yourself. We all feel like we deserve those “special somethings”, or just want to treat ourselves to something nice from time to time. While you have every right to buy that item you’ve always had eyes on, if you find yourself swiping your credit/ debit card or spending your cash with increasing frequency, you can quickly find yourself dealing with serious money problems.
If your purchases have shifted from buying and shopping for things you genuinely need, to buying things because you’re looking for that internal sense of fulfillment you get when make a purchase, which we’ll call emotional spending, your behaviour is likely no longer healthy for you… or your bank account.
Before you find yourself in deep in debt and develop impulsive buying habits that could be hard to break, you should try to concentrate and refocus your spending priorities and educate yourself to help manage your money and stay out of trouble. Failing to do so can quickly lead to high levels of debt, which you may not be able to solve on your own in the future.
Keep reading below to find out how to prevent emotional spending before it becomes a real problem.
Learn to Maintain a Realistic Budget
First things first, you have to set a limit on how much you can spend each month. By simply knowing that you can’t go past a specific amount, you’ll find it easier to control your urges to spend more than you’re allowed because you set that limit for yourself.
At the start of each month, set a budget for your genuine “needs” and living expenses, which are obviously a priority, and then you can guarantee that your mandatory expenses have been covered. Then you can determine if you have any money left over for your “wants” and are able to treat yourself. After you’ve created your pre-determined budget, allocate a reasonable amount of money that you can use on things that fall into the “wants” category rather than the “needs” category, and then you won’t feel guilty because you planned for it. Also, to avoid temptation, whenever you’re out at the mall or looking through shops, only carry the amount of cash you’re planning on spending, and always bring a list from home of things you intended or need to buy, in order to avoid impulse shopping.
Determine If It’s a Need or a Want
Every time you’re going shopping for something, make it a habit to have a list with you outlining what you are out to buy, and avoid straying from it. When you see the items you have written down on paper, you’ll have more chances of sticking to that list, reducing your likelihood of making an impulse buy. This is one of the best secrets around because we are able to fight the marketing powers from stores to try to convince us to buy things we didn’t intend to buy.
In addition to knowing exactly what you’re planning to buy, it will also help by being specific on which brands of the items you are looking to purchase. That way, you won’t be lured into buying alternative products which may end up costing more than you initially planned to spend.
Write Down and Track your spending
An essential way to highlight and reduce your impulsive purchases is to keep track of how much you are saving, and how much you are spending in general. Recording all of your transactions, each and every time you use your credit card, debit card or spend your cash is vital so you can track and monitor how much money remains within your pre-determined budget.
When you forget (or choose not) to write down what you’ve purchased or spent money on, it’s very simple to end up going past your limit without even noticing. By always paying close attention to your purchases and writing everything down, you’ll find yourself less likely to overspend and be more aware of your spending behaviours and habits.
Take Time Deciding on It
When you’re thinking of purchasing items on a whim, you may want to try sleeping on that purchase and waiting or at least delaying for twenty-four hours. By giving yourself time to think, you can decide if that purchase is really essential to make now, at a later time or maybe not at all! This technique is especially crucial to help avoid emotional spending for that those times you spend online shopping, or when you are looking for that next big thing you’ve always wanted. This is a great way to battle the effects of marketing tactics and strategies designed to get you to buy more products.
Even if you just pop open a website with no intentions of buying anything, you’ll never know when you’ll suddenly encounter that unanticipated item you want or feel that you need to have it now. You can avoid the temptation to purchase a “tempting” or “sale” item by adding it to your cart by giving yourself time away before clicking the “buy” button, and then coming back a day or so later to see if you still want it or not.
Emotional spending may not be a noticeable problem at first, but more often than not it can become a serious problem that damages your finances. The steps outlined in this article can help give you the skills that will allow you to avoid developing impulsive buying tendencies, let you maintain a realistic budget, figure out if it’s a need or want, write down your spending, and take time to decide on it. While you have every right to spend on frivolous items periodically, this should only be done within the confines of what you can actually afford.
Are you looking for a financial counsellor in Ontario to help you with managing your debts? Paul J. Pickering and Associates Limited offers debt counselling solutions, such as debt management solutions, bankruptcies and consumer proposals to clients in need. Get in touch with us today to request a free consultation today!