Over the past several months we have explored several ways to save in the areas of food, family and finance. We will finish up this series by exploring the feelings associated with spending and savings. Here are five emotions to consider that might be driving you to spend.
- Sadness – Some people jokingly call this retail therapy but it is frequently a way people use to deal with sadness. I have seen this used first hand as a way to cope with the death of a loved one. The spending momentarily fills a void left by the deceased individual, but the void is never really filled so the buying continues. This is only a delay in the grieving process. The purchases produce a momentary sense of happiness, but that soon dissipates after the buying is complete.
- Boredom – Are you frequently stuck with hours to kill while you wait to go to an appointment, met up with a friend or pick-up your kids. When this happens I am magically transported to Target where me and my money part ways. Did I need anything at Target? No. But I was bored and found that shopping occupied this wait time.
- Hast – Most retailers are well versed in the idea of immediacy and making consumers feel that they will miss out on a deal if they wait to make that purchase. Do you fall victim to this tactic? I know I have. It’s a flash sale only available for a limited time. A special purchase price. Get it now or you will miss out. It initially feels like you will be saving money but in the end you spend more on something you don’t really need and might not have even wanted if you took the time to consider the decision.
- Stress – It seems counter intuitive to say stress can cause spending when overspending causes stress. But picture it you are on the check-out line at the grocery store. Your one child needs a diaper change, the other one is screaming for a toy, and you have to get home in 10 minutes. You know that getting your kid the toy will give you a moments peace. So you make the purchase knowing you really don’t need it.
- Reward – In some cases, after a long day or difficult project we justify a purchase as a deserving reward. Now there is nothing wrong with treating ourselves occasionally. However, if we are using this as an excuse to overspend then that is no reward at all.
There are a few tactics you can use to deal with these emotions that drive overspending.
- Slow down- If you feel you are being pushed into a decision to purchase, slow down, step away and think thought the decision. Know that if you miss this deal there will be other in the future.
- Is it a need or a want? – Do you need the item or do you actually have one just as good at home? Do you want to make the purchase for some other reason?
- Plan out your rewards – If you want to make a purchase as a reward for your efforts. Save the money, select a specific item and make it special. Be selective, plan it our and build anticipation. Be thoughtful about your reward.
- Identify the emotion- Do you really want to make that purchase or are you feeling blue and are looking for a momentary lift? Are you feeling stressed and looking for a release? Go for a walk in the park. Do a workout. Talk to a friend. Find a non-monetary way to express your feelings.