It can be very difficult sticking to a rational budget since our spending is so tied to emotion. Feelings easily take over and we have a hard time doing what we know we should do. We buy on impulse as a response to emotional and situational triggers. Are you aware of the triggers that lead you to spend money on things you do not need to be spending money on? Here are seven of the most common emotional and situational triggers that cause us to overspend:
Overspending Trigger #1: Being in a Bad Mood
Let’s be honest. Buying something on impulse makes us feel better and restores a sense of self-control. There is immediate satisfaction upon making a purchase. When people are in a bad mood, they just want to do something to feel better. Many just go shopping.
So replace shopping with some other activity that makes you feel good. Go for a run. Meditate. Listen to some music. Find some sort of outlet for dealing with those moody moments. Have a journal for times such as these, or better yet, talk to a close friend. Be aware of your feelings, get to the bottom of what is causing them, and express them to someone who can help.
Overspending Trigger #2: Being on Vacation
A vacation is kind of like a holiday and people tend to give themselves a little more leeway on holidays. Vacations are also notorious for things being overpriced and can easily take you away from your budget concerns. The feeling of being relaxed and care-free easily carries over into a person’s wallet or purse.
When on vacation, it is okay to spend a little more than usual. Just be sure to fit your vacation spending into your budget. Perhaps think of allocating an extra ten percent of spending money into your budget. You will probably need to think ahead to your vacation by cutting back on prior spending. The prior cutbacks will allow you to splurge a little when vacation time rolls around. But be sure you can afford the vacation, along with its expenses, before you ever take one.
Overspending Trigger #3: Seeing a Great Sales Event
It can be irresistible to see an item you really want at a price that seems like a steal. During times like these, it can even seem foolish not to make the purchase.
Take some time to consider the bigger picture. Do you really need the item, or do you just really want it? If the item were not on sale, would you still really need it? If not, then you should probably walk away. If staying within a budget is of real concern to you, then any purchases must be truly justified. Every purchase should be meeting a real need.
Overspending Trigger #4: Being Bored
Feeling the need to fill up free leisure time can lead to compulsive spending. The problem is now compounded in a digital age, since purchases can now be made within seconds on a smartphone without breaking out a wallet or credit card.
Free leisure time offers the opportunity for lots of activities. So think of all the others things you could be doing instead. Learn something new. Go and hang out with a friend. Get to work on that project you have been meaning to start. Be productive, not compulsive.
Overspending Trigger #5: Being out with Friends
Behind this common trigger is the need to feel included in your peer group. So when everyone around us is ordering up fancy drinks and making lavish purchases, we tend to follow suit. To not do so is to risk feeling excluded from the group.
Prior planning is once again the key to getting around this trigger. Before you go out, figure out how much money is appropriate for you to spend. Explain your budgeting scenario to your friends if you have to and stick to items that will not drain your budget.
Overspending Trigger #6: Being on a Diet
Being on a budget and not overspending requires willpower and self-control. When willpower is used up in one area, it usually gets depleted in another area. Moreover, willpower is a limited resource that drains over the course of a day. Any activity that requires more willpower than usual may trigger compulsive spending.
Self-control can be replenished by doing things that are enjoyable and do not require much willpower at all. Also, you may want to plan your shopping needs for earlier during the day, since willpower starts to run low as the day goes on.
Overspending Trigger #7: Birthdays and Special Events
Our spending tends to fit the mood or occasion and we need to have vigilance when it comes to controlling our money during times of celebration. It is easy to make mistakes when our emotions get so tied up in the moment.
Special occasions may be budgeted. But stick to the budgeted amount. Remember what you are saving for, and do not put yourself in jeopardy by overspending.