Nip spending-for-the-sake-of-spending urges in the bud

Curbing the Spendthrift Appetite

by Rachel Muller

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Are you a shopping addict? Does money burn a hole in your pocket? Do you feel the need to keep spending even after your wallet is empty? I can answer no to those questions most of the time, but once in a while, my discipline slips, and I get an urge to buy things I don't really need. There's nothing wrong with the occasional luxury if it fits in your budget. But when a 'luxury' purchase is impulsive, it often leads to another, and another, and then another after that. If you're not careful, you can find yourself on an all-out shopping bender that doesn't end until you get your credit card statement. Ouch! Here are some strategies to nip those spending-for-the-sake-of-spending urges in the bud:

  1. Visit the library instead of the shopping mall. The best thing about libraries is you can browse to your heart's content without guilt, and take home great reading material, music, and movies for free. Most library systems now offer online services that allow you to request specific books, CDs or DVDs.
  2. De-clutter, deep clean, or rearrange a room. Nothing is more satisfying than reclaiming space that's been neglected or buried in junk. It's even better than acquiring new stuff. It's also a great reminder that sometimes "less" really is more.
  3. Sort through a closet or chest of drawers. Before hitting the mall to buy new clothes, reacquaint yourself with what you already have. Maybe you'll rediscover a favorite outfit you forgot about or a skirt that's cycled back in style. Once again, getting organized can be as satisfying as a shopping trip.
  4. Organize a clothes exchange. So you've gone through your closet, and you have a pile of perfectly good things that don't fit anymore or just don't suit you. Why not call a few like-minded friends and have a clothes exchange? Cast your net wider and organize a school, church, or playgroup exchange. Include toys, books, dishes, etc. This is a great way to recycle what you don't want and get new things for free.
  5. Related: Could Social Media Be Causing You to Overspend?

  6. Do something creative. Is spending your knee-jerk response to boredom? Then try something creative instead. Make a gorgeous floral arrangement with flowers from your garden. Try a new recipe for dinner. Bake a delicious pie or cake. Make someone a gift with craft supplies you already have. Write a fun letter (on paper) to someone you haven't been in touch with for a while.
  7. Are you one of the many people heading for debt trouble without knowing it? This simple checklist can help you find out and tell you how to avoid it.

  8. Know your spending triggers. If compulsive spending is a problem, avoid temptation! Stay away from shopping malls or the boutiques that call your name. Women's magazines with their slick advertising are a trigger for me. They give me what I call the "consumer munchies."
  9. Do a financial reality check. Before you spend another penny, sit down and balance your checkbook. While you're at it, go online and check your current credit card balance. Need I say more?

Let's face it. Spending money can be a very pleasurable activity. If you're not ready to go cold turkey, give yourself a budget and hit a few garage sales, thrift stores, rummage sales or flea markets instead. It will be far less hazardous to your financial health!

Reviewed November 2017

Take the Next Step

  • What are your spending triggers? Sit down and reflect on the times that you've overspent your budget with impulse buys. See if there's a pattern. Knowing the cause is half the battle.
  • Learn how to break other bad financial habits.
  • Use these guidelines, tips and tools to gain control of your spending and improve your financial situation.
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