How often have you seen this scenario? You budget at the beginning of the month, you know exactly how much you have to spend on bills, necessities, and fun. Yet at the end of the month, you are left scratching your head and wondering where all that money went. Sound familiar? Don’t worry; you aren’t alone.
Related Article: Using Your Smartphone to Track Spending
Studies suggest that there are both environmental and psychological triggers that may cause us to spend more money than we’d like to. Taking these factors into consideration next time you shop could help you avoid overspending.
Having the blues can cause us to turn to all sorts of unsavory behaviors. Like overeating, overspending can be something triggered by our need to make ourselves feel good, even if only for a short time. If you use terms like “retail therapy” to justify your spending habit, it may be time to treat the wound, and not just put a band-aid on it. Try rewarding yourself another (and cheaper) way. Enjoy a glass of wine, watch your favorite movie, or even work out. If you really cannot avoid going to a store, leave your credit cards at home and only bring a finite amount of cash. Changing behaviors has much to do with setting new boundaries. Finances, especially, benefit from boundaries.
A Journal of Consumer Research study noted that people spend less when they are in a heavily crowded store. It could be that the mobs of people make us want to get out of stores faster, or that we see others filling their shopping carts, and we’re reminded of how quickly purchases pile up. Whatever the reason, it may be better for your bank account to shop at peak times. Your sanity may be tested, but at least you’ll have peace of mind knowing that you didn’t overbuy.
This is a need that is encouraged by corporations and the general culture at large. We want stuff, and we want that stuff now! Since this need is ingrained into our ways of being and encouraged by almost all of the marketing that we are inundated with, it isn’t an easy feeling to change. Smart phones and computers make online shopping as simple as one-click buys, and many brands advertise sales when we buy this way. The result is that we have fewer barriers at which to stop and ask ourselves if we really need the item we’re about to purchase. Do yourself and your savings a favor: don’t set up one-click accounts online.
We all have to make purchases here and there that cause us mortification at the register: feminine products, types of medicine, condoms, or even a really terrible DVD (but it’s your favorite!). The Journal of Consumer Research found that eighty percent of people buy extra items to distract others from embarrassing things in their shopping cart. Eighty percent! You would think that since almost all of us do this, it’s something we can all just acknowledge and put an end to. If you just can’t wrap your head around not caring what others think about your need to buy yeast infection medicine, pad the purchase with practical items like laundry detergent and pet food. Just make sure those extra items are things you actually need and will use!
As mentioned above, online shopping can get dangerous. Especially if you are someone who likes to use their smart phone when they are a bit (or more than a bit) intoxicated. Alcohol plus shopping can add up to some major overspending. The New York Times ran a piece about drinking and online shopping that suggest retailers are aware of their alcohol-saturated market, and do their best to exploit it. Whether it’s a tendency to drunk text your ex or unnecessarily buy a new sweater, you may want to hide your phone soon after popping a bottle. Everyone will be better off, and you can have that hangover without a side of shame the next morning.
Related Article: Are You an Emotional Spender?
Photo Credit: Brad Rickerby