Emotional Shopping: Six Tips for Keeping Your Impulse Spending To a Minimum

As human beings, we’re inherently emotionally-driven creatures, even if we fancy ourselves to be relatively level-headed. Even if we know better, it’s still all too normal to succumb to the occasional passionate outburst. Whether we’ve gotten a bit of good news and we want to celebrate, or we’ve unfortunately been on the receiving end of some bad news and we’re in dire need of some sympathy, there is nothing wrong with having an instinctual, knee-jerk reaction to these kinds of stimuli. However, how you handle said news can play a huge role not only in your mental health, but your financial wellbeing, too.

Research has shown that in times of stress or hardship, frivolous spending tends to go up. Indeed, it’s so ubiquitous, there’s even a word for it: retail therapy. While spending some of your hard-earned money here or there can be relatively harmless, it’s when that spending feels out of control — or you simply don’t have the money to waste on silly items — can it become problematic. If you’re starting to become concerned about your spending, and you’re ready to regain control of your finances, then here are six essential tips to help you keep your impulse buys to a minimum.

Unsubscribe to Spam Mailers

One of the biggest motivators to spending money is the erroneous belief that you’re saving money. After all, nobody wants to pay full price for anything, especially when it’s more of a want than a need. However, if you find yourself getting a bunch of spam messages in your inbox, it could be triggering you to spend money — even if you had no intention of buying anything before you saw the message. Rather than getting sucked into a too-good bargain and spending money that you don’t have, instead, click “unsubscribe” on the email message. This simple act can save you literally thousands in the future.

Go Shopping With a Plan

There are times that you may head out with every intention of spending money, as you may need something new for your home or your job. In these cases, it’s not like you were minding your own business, then somehow got suckered into buying something you had no intention of purchasing. Still, shopping without a plan is a recipe for disaster, especially if you’ve given yourself full “permission” to spend money while out. To avoid this pitfall, make sure you have a plan in place before you leave the house. This can help prevent you from coming home with something you didn’t need.

Practice Delayed Gratification

What if you get an advertisement for something that you feel like you absolutely need, and you’re finding yourself unable to stop thinking about it? In these cases, it may be better to seriously consider whether or not you need the item in question. You may even go as far as allowing yourself to buy it, but before you do so, take a deep breath and pause. Rather than throwing the item into your shopping cart and instantly checking out, make yourself wait two days before you click “buy.” In those 48 hours, you may realize you didn’t want it as much as you originally believed you did.

Create a Budget (And Stick To It)

Everyone espouses the benefits of creating a budget, yet very few people actually make one. Why is that, especially if we all know the value of creating and following one? In many cases, a budget somehow seems synonymous with denial and restriction, and it’s normal to want to resist it. It’s your inner child, having a temper tantrum for being told “no” to something it wanted. To make it easier, create your primary budget, carefully outlining all of your needs. Then, make another, smaller column for your wants. Having a fun budget can make it easier to stick with it, further bolstering your financial health.

Don’t Make It Too Easy

In today’s digital age, most of us have personal computers at home. And on those computers, we have our sensitive financial information saved. While we would never do anything to put that data at risk, we still somehow manage to put our finances at risk every day when we allow our computers to save our credit card information. If your spending is getting out of control, find a way to make it harder for you to shop. Don’t let your computer save your credit card information, for instance. Or when you’re out and about, keep only a limited amount of cash on your person.

Ask For Help

If you find that your spending is starting to get out of control, and you’re getting anxious about how you’re going to pay your bills or otherwise make ends meet next month, it may be time for a much-overdue intervention. While your friends and family can make for a fantastic support network, it’s unfair to put that onus upon them. Instead, you may need to speak to a professional about your spending. Whether you talk to a financial coach, or you reach out to a therapist to get to the root of your compulsive spending, there’s nothing wrong with getting help with your spending habits.

Furthermore, certified public accountants (CPAs) aren’t just for small business owners. Having one take a look over your finances can be more than worth the initial investment, and it can save you a considerable sum moving forward. They aren’t hard to find, either, and you’ll be sure to find relevant CPA firm marketing information either online or in your local yellow pages. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help, especially if you feel out of control. By being proactive, and following these six steps, you can feel confident that you’re doing everything in your power to be intelligent about your finances.