17 Apr

Mind over Money

Getting on top of impulse spending.

Have you ever walked into a store intending to buy one thing and stepped out with three? I have certainly done this on more occasions than I care to think about.

Or have you clicked on that flashy “Limited Time Offer” online, only to wonder later why you purchased it?

By the way; Drunk Spending is a thing, when we are more relaxed, we happily spend more. It’s very easy to click ‘buy now’ without thinking about it.

Welcome to the world of impulse spending, where our wallets often wish they could speak up and say, “Hold on a minute!”

But before diving into the nitty-gritty of curbing impulse buys, let’s first understand the psychology behind Impulse spending. Understanding is the first step to mastering. So, let’s grab that metaphorical flashlight and illuminate the often-shadowy corners of our spending habits.

Emotional spending: Ever had a bad day and ended up treating yourself to something pricey? That’s emotional spending. Our moods can have a direct hotline to our wallets, often bypassing rational thought.  It doesn’t have to be a bad day; we want to celebrate a good day.  We want to feel better after an argument with out partner.  We’ve missed the school sports day again, so we better buy a gift for our child to make up for it.

The ‘Ooh, Shiny!’ Factor: Sometimes, it’s just about the allure of something new or the thrill of a good deal. It’s a bit like a magpie drawn to shiny objects – it’s hard to resist! My Dad couldn’t resist this one.  He loved Gadgets, he had so much ‘stuff’ that was used once, it drove my poor Mum crazy, she had so many kitchen implements that she never wanted, never used, that Dad bought for her.

Social Influences: Seeing friends or influencers flaunting their latest purchases can trigger a case of the ‘I wants’. It’s natural to want to keep up, but it can lead to unplanned spending. FOMO kicks in.  I don’t think this just for the younger Gen X and Y.  The more mature amongst us are also prone to social influences as well.  Have a look around your local campground and see all the camping toys with labels!

Convenience and Technology: Buying has never been easier with one-click purchases and is always challenging. While that’s great for efficiency, it could be better for our bank accounts.  We see marketing to buy everywhere, on our phones, our laptops and tablets, our inbox, everytime we buy, we seem to be added to yet another list that generates more opportunities to open the wallet.

Overcoming your triggers: Strategies to keep impulse spending at bay

Now we know a bit more about how impulse spending happens, what can we do to curb it?

  • Pause before you purchase:
    Feel the urge to buy something on a whim?  For a small purchase, you just need to count to 10 to let your rational brain kick in. Take a breath and give it 24 hours for a larger purchase. If you still want it after a day, and it fits within your budget, it’s not just an impulse.
  • Understand your emotions:
    Next time you’re tempted to indulge in retail therapy, ask yourself what’s driving that urge. Are you sad, stressed, or bored? Recognizing these emotions can help you find healthier, wallet-friendly ways to address them. Start to be aware of your own triggers, before you head out the door, or click buy now check in with your emotions.
  • Set boundaries, not barriers:
    Instead of cutting out all fun spending, set a budget for treats. This way, you can enjoy the occasional splurge without the post-purchase guilt. This is one of my personal favourites.  I’m getting a puppy, and like any new member of the family, he will need things.  So, I set myself a spending limit and started a bit of a list, and off I went.  I had a great time finding toys, beds, leads and I didn’t break my budget doing it.. Yes, he is going to be on spoilt little boy!
  • Unsubscribe and unfollow:
    Reduce temptation by unsubscribing from marketing emails and muting social media accounts that trigger impulse spending. Out of sight, often out of mind. This is another one that I use.  I know it’s a pain to have to unsubscribe, and sometimes you need to do it more than once, but you credit card will thank you for it.
  • Find joy beyond the buy:
    Cultivate hobbies or activities that bring you joy without a price tag. Sometimes, the best things in life aren’t things. If you love eating out, does it always need to be in a restaurant?  Could fish and chips on the beach give you joy as well?  Think about alternatives to what you currently spend that give you the same pleasure.  Sometimes we just get stuck in routines and habits that could do with a bit of a refresh. 
  • Celebrate savings, not just spending:
    Make saving as thrilling as spending. Set savings goals and celebrate when you reach them. Watching your savings grow can be just as satisfying as a new purchase. If you are saving for something in particular, like a trip, or a new car, give the savings account a nickname that relates to the goal, you are less likely to dip into it that way.
  • Know your money personality:
    Some money personalities find it easier to spend than others.  You may have guessed that I’m a spender, so I need spending boundaries around myself, so I can enjoy my spending without the buyer’s remorse that I used to get.  If you are a hoarder, you will be wondering what on earth this article is about, as you just don’t get it, curbing your spending impulse comes naturally to you.

Understanding the psychology behind impulse spending is like having a map in a maze – it can guide you through the tricky turns and dead ends of temptation. By recognizing your triggers and implementing mindful spending strategies, you’re not just saving money but investing in your financial well-being and peace of mind.

So, the next time you feel the pull of impulse spending, remember it’s not just about resisting a purchase. It’s about embracing a mindset where you’re in control, where every decision is a step towards a more secure and fulfilling financial future. Here’s to being mindful, intentional, and wise with every swipe, click, and buy. After all, the most rewarding purchase is the one that brings not just temporary delight but lasting satisfaction and growth.