Do you find yourself spending when you shouldn’t? Is there a great sale that you just can’t pass by because the new hot item is 25% off? You know you don’t need it but who can pass up a good deal? Everyone has reasons that they spend. Avoiding certain spending triggers can significantly help you maintain better control over your finances and prevent impulsive or unnecessary expenses. Here are some spending triggers you should be cautious of:
1. Emotional Spending
Be mindful of spending money when you are feeling stressed, sad, or anxious, as emotions can lead to impulsive purchases. It is so easy to spend money when you are not feeling happy and content. Have you ever gone to the store because you had a bad day and were going to get some snacks to make you feel better? Snacks might not be a big expense on a regular day but when you feel upset, you might buy a candy bar, a bag of candy, something to drink, then you get a magazine and oh you need this new type of makeup, and the list goes on. You leave the store and have spent $50 on things you did not need and are not in your budget. Before going to buy online or at the store, call a friend or listen to some music to help you get yourself out of your sadness or bad mood.
2. Sales and Discounts
While sales can offer savings, they can also encourage you to buy things you don’t need just because they’re on sale. A good deal can be so hard to pass up! When you buy online, the stores are so smart because you give them your email and guess what?? The sales now come to your email. Give them your phone number and now you get a text about the great deals. You can get bombarded with deals and feel that you are going to miss out if you don’t take the deal. You DON”T have to buy from every sale. Buy what you need but don’t end up with 5 Stanley cups because they were on sale. Deals can be great when you know you have something special to buy. One tip is to set up a separate email account just for sales emails so you don’t see it every day but you can still get that coupon if you need it.
3. Peer Pressure
Feeling pressured to spend money on social activities, outings, or events beyond your budget can strain your finances. Are all of your friends or family members going on great vacations and they want you to go? Sounds like fun but you know, there is no way you can afford it. Don’t trick yourself into thinking you can pay for it when you know it is not possible. It is awful watching your friends go to concerts, on vacations or even out to fancy dinners when you know you can’t put it in your budget but this won’t always be the case. Stick with your budget and create a sinking fund for those events so next time you can join.
4. Online Shopping
Have you ever been scrolling online and see an advertisement for something you have thought about buying. You click on it, put in your information and bam, you have bought the new item. The ease and convenience of online shopping can lead to impulsive buying, especially with one-click purchasing options. They have made it so easy to buy items that you think you need. Now the internet is so in tune with what we want, not always need, that advertisements pop up all the time and make it easy to just spend mindlessly. Don’t fall into the trap. Online shopping definitely has its perks but be careful of overspending.
5. Lifestyle Inflation
Avoid increasing spending just because your income has gone up, as it can quickly lead to unnecessary expenses. Raise your hand if you have done this before?! You get a raise and you think you need to buy more stuff. You don’t! We are conditioned to think more stuff means more happiness. It doesn’t. Instead of spending on more things that cause clutter and do not do anything for you, take the extra money you are earning and put it in a savings account. Save for something that will actually be useful in the future. Make sure to include your new income in your budget to stop this mindless spending.
6. Credit Card Bonuses
When you go to the mailbox are you bombarded with credit cards? Open your email and there are more credit card offers? It seems that everyone wants you to believe that more credit cards will get you the best credit score. If you are not using them and paying it right off, you are just falling into the debt trap. Do you really need 5 credit cards that give you 3% back? If you want a credit card, pick the one that will give you the rewards that you will use the most. If you travel a lot, check out one that gives you rewards with travel. I personally love the Capital One Venture card for travel rewards (I use this card every day). High credit limits and reward programs may encourage overspending and accumulating debt so be careful when picking a credit card.
7. Impulse Buying
Taking time to think about a purchase can be hard but so important to do. It helps with many of the spending triggers. Let’s say you want a new computer but instead of just going right to the store and buying one, do some research so that you make sure you are getting the best one but also the best deal. Take the time to stop and decide what you really need before you go buy. Make sure you are spending intentionally and you really understand your spending triggers (we cover this and more in my program Flourish FinanciALLI).
8. Lack of Budgeting
Not having a clear budget in place can make it easier to overspend without realizing it. Make a plan for yourself with a budget so that you are confident with your money and with your spending. Plan where your money goes so that you don’t have to worry about fees or that look from the cashier when your card says declined. If you need help budgeting, check out my coaching program Flourish FinanciALLI. I will help you create a budget that you can feel confident with and that will help you be successful (and the best part is I personally review your budget and provide feedback!).
9. Unplanned Shopping Trips
Heading to the store without a shopping list can lead to buying items on a whim. Grocery shopping to me is a chore. It is necessary but something that doesn’t always thrill me. When I don’t make a list or when I take my kids, I spend so much more money because I am just grabbing things I like with no real idea of what I will cook. Have you gone into Target without a list? You know what happens. That milk you need or a quick birthday present quickly becomes a new shirt, a pair of shoes, oh I need a new book, there was a sale on beach towels, etc. You get the idea. At least if you go in with a list and the idea that you need to stick to the list, then you are less likely to go rogue.
10. Not Comparing Prices
Failing to shop around and compare prices can lead to overspending on products or services. When working on this, think about large items that you would like to buy like a computer, a refrigerator, or new furniture. These are big ticket items that would be good to compare their prices before you actually buy one. If you are looking to have your oil change or need new tires, it is worth it to check around before you make purchases like this. Do what you can to get the best bang for your buck. Many places even have coupons to use.
11. Subscriptions and Auto-Renewals
Keep track of your subscriptions and cancel those you no longer use or need. It is easy to get subscriptions that you forget about. You might have paid for them once or did a free trial and bam the money comes out of your account. Keep a list of when you have started a new free trial so that you can cancel if you do not want it. Set a calendar alert or notification on your phone to help you remember if you need that. If you haven’t used it in a month, you should probably cancel it.
12. Keeping Up with Others
Trying to maintain the same lifestyle as others, even if you can’t afford it, can lead to financial difficulties. People don’t know what is going on in their friend’s bank accounts. We have all seen people who have the best of the best and the newest of the new, only to find out that they are filing for bankruptcy or they are so deep in debt they can’t breathe. If you can’t afford something don’t go into debt that you can’t pay off just so someone sees you with a cool new car or the new shoes everyone is talking about.
To avoid getting sucked into these spending triggers, it’s essential to cultivate mindfulness about your spending habits, create a budget, prioritize needs over wants, and regularly review your financial goals. If you are looking for a program that gives you more freedom over your spending, check out my free FinanciALLI Focused Foundations course.