You could be out with friends. Or you have a toddler tugging on your sleeve. Maybe you’ve just stumbled across a great sale.
You’ve been hit with an urge to spend. Your heart wants to buy, but your head knows you need to save.
What do you do? Spend now, and regret it later? Walk away and regret it later?
What to Do When You’re Hit With An Urge to Spend
That conflicted feeling between wanting to buy and wanting to save is such an uncomfortable one. I’ve been in situations when I am jealous of what others are doing and I just want to buy the toys I want when I want. And I’ve felt the hurt in my heart when my kids really want a treat, but we just shouldn’t spend the money on treats right now.
I’ve found a few things that help me deal with these emotions and walk away from spending mistakes with money saved.
Think about your emotions and why you want to buy.
The urge to spend is sometimes more about your emotions than it is about buying something to fulfill a need. Do you want to buy something because you are bored? Lonely? Sad? Angry? Feeling guilty? Feeling jealous? Recognizing the emotions behind your urge to spend can help you deflect them and keep you from spending.
For example, if boredom is the cause, I know I need to find other free or low-cost activities I can do instead of going shopping. If I’m sad, I can call a friend instead of hopping online to find a deal.
Remember your goals. Does this purchase help you reach those goals?
Pick up the item you are thinking of buying. Hold it in your hands. Remind your self of your goals. Are you trying to pay down debt or save for a vacation? Does buying this thing right now do anything to help you reach your goal? If the answer is no, put it back. Then take a few moments to think about what you can do that will help you move toward your goals.
Think about how much you would have to work to pay for what you want to buy.
If you calculate how many hours it would take you to pay for something, there’s a pretty good chance you will reconsider the purchase. This is especially true for all those times you want to eat out instead of cook dinner at home. Do you really want to work several hours to pay for a meal you probably won’t remember three weeks from now?
I’m not going to lie to you, when the urge to spend strikes it can be very difficult to walk away. Remind yourself that there are always more opportunities for great deals. Instead of telling yourself “No,” simply tell yourself, “Not now.” You can walk away knowing that you can come back when you are in a better financial place. Oftentimes you will find that when you come back to it, you no longer want the item anyway. When you are able to walk away from temptation, you will walk away a smarter, stronger person.
Plan for the next time you’re hit with an urge to spend.
You’ll always have to deal with temptation to spend money, so you should plan for it. That means you could make sure you budget a little money to blow. It means you could know what triggers you to want to spend and find ways to avoid the places (and people and things) that cause you to buy stuff.
It’s not easy fighting the urge to spend, but when you can successfully do it, you’ll be in a better position to reach your financial goals. Just take a deep breath, think it through, and know that you can control your money instead of letting it control you.