Many people find themselves in debt or financial difficulties because they spend money when they really don’t need to. You may be like this – you might not get yourself into financial hot water, but you find you can’t save as much as you’d like because you end up splurging when you’re unhappy, bored or stressed. Some people even spend unnecessarily when they’re happy, so it seems there’s no escape for an unlucky few!
There is a solution, though. It’s based on recognising triggers and patterns to your spending habits and behaviours and working out ways to head them off.
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You can treat yourself occasionally
After all, you work hard enough, right? However, if your little treats mean you have to call up a utility provider to ask them if you can defer payment, then you have to ask yourself if spedning on that treat is really worth it. You might never fully break the habit of emotional spending, but if you can reduce it, that’s got to be an improvement.
Watch out for impulse purchases
Impulse purchases are nearly always unnecessary. Of course, spending on the occasional chocolate bar at the checkout isn’t going to break the bank, but if you’re regularly giving into impulses to buy a £30 mascara or a new games console “just because”, then you need to stop and think.
One great idea is to give yourself a 24-hour cooling off period before you buy something that isn’t an essential or a pressing need. Sometimes we give into impulses because we’ve lost track of how much we need to get to the end of the month, so it might be a good idea to try Creditfix and its budget calculator. Just having some figures in black and white can be a reality check.
Why do companies spend a fortune on advertising? That’s right; because it gets people to buy things from them! If you’re exposed to fewer adverts, then you’ll be less likely to buy things that you don’t need. If you need something, you’ll go and look for it of your own volition. Anything else is most likely superfluous, so unsubscribe to all the product catalogues that come into your email inbox or through your letterbox and watch less TV!
Reduce your temptation
If you head to a shopping centre once a week with the intention of just browsing but come home with armfuls of bags, then you’re not helping yourself! Reduce your mall visits to once a month, or shop online instead. Ideally, you should find other pursuits to occupy your mind and your time. It may be the case that you shop with a particular friend and you egg each other on, so find another activity and leave your credit cards behind.
Identify your triggers
Do you shop when you’re bored? When you’re stressed at work? Do you overspend when you’ve had a break-up? If you answer yes to any of these questions then you’re just making things worse so it’s important that you find a way to limit this damage. Instead of going out and buying up the entire cosmetics counter, why not buy a book instead? Don’t buy anything cosmetics-related at all, because one lip gloss always leads to another. It’s about recognising the need for a treat but diverting that need into something else that’s cheaper and gives more benefits than just a new shade…