Why do we spend money? The answer might not be as simple as it seems.
Obviously, we must acquire what is necessary to live our lives—food, water, shelter, clothing—but at some point, spending has the capacity to take on another role, an emotional role.
When our emotions become involved, we spend money for many reasons.
One of the most pernicious reasons we spend is a reason we may not even be aware of—to cope. When spending loses its pragmatic purpose, chances are, we are feeling some difficult emotions, and our spending can get out of balance.
One of the easiest areas to tackle is hungry shopping. How many times have you made a list and found yourself at the checkout, $50 bucks over budget? Sometimes, it’s the hunger that gets you in trouble. So, the old adage bears repeating: don’t go to the grocery store hungry. If you have trouble sticking to your list, think about what you could do with the money you spend on extra (often unnecessary junk food) stuff at the grocery store. If you have a vacation fund, dropping those extra dollars into your fund will be much better than the feeling you get from eating that pound cake.
Another trouble area for many people is celebration:
“Honey, I got the job—let’s go out tonight!”
“I got an A on that paper—let’s celebrate.”
“I’ve been working hard lately. I deserve a treat.”
Celebrating your successes and diligence is healthy. The only problem with celebratory purchases is when they don’t fit into your budget. If you can develop the necessary boundaries to take a moment and look at your budget, you can make an informed choice about what’s appropriate in terms of celebration. Good news can be exciting. If you’re planning for good news and will want to celebrate, put it in your budget.
Sometimes we buy because we feel guilty. Case in point—someone is selling magazine subscriptions to raise money for their school. A noble cause. The issue here is whether you need magazines, and, whether you’ve budgeted for them. Why are you buying these magazines? Are you buying them because you have a hard time saying “No,” or are you buying them because they’ll add value to your life?
Dealing with guilt points directly back to the budget. If you are inclined towards feeling guilty, your budget can help you establish healthier boundaries. If you still feel that you’ll be unable to decline in these ma
Sometimes, fear can drive our purchases. Do you remember a time when someone sold you that added, extra protection in addition to an extended warranty for a product? Our innate desire for security can become a target for predatory sales pitches.
The solution for fear based purchases centers on making sure your needs are met. Take the time to understand things like warranties and insurance policies to understand how they meet your needs. In this way, you’ll be better equipped to resist making unnecessary purchases.
Sometimes, the habit of shopping becomes addictive. If you’re spending in unhealthy ways, identifying the problem is the first step in seeking a solution. When you feel like making a purchase, check in with your emotions and let them run their course. If you can’t justify a purchase through your budget, try talking it over with a family member or friend. Sometimes, this added accountability can help towards overcoming emotional spending.
If you’re looking for more ways to save money, budget better, and get out of debt, visit CreditGUARD of America for educational information and to speak with a certified credit counselor.