Ever have a really big “oops” moment? Like one of those moments that seems to catch you off guard but really it wouldn’t have if you had just been paying any dang attention?
For me, this is what it feels like when I lose control with my spending…it’s like there’s this momentary feeling of incredibleness about the new, whatever the heck I bought, but then there comes this horrible and terrible dread of, “what the hell did I just do? I spent HOW MUCH on WHAT????!!!!”
Everyone has a spending trigger – even us savers. We’re all human and we all have wants and needs. We all have moments of complete self-control but we also on occasion have moments of absolutely no self-control.
And our spending triggers can trigger us to have those moments of self-control.
I know my trigger sure can.
My trigger is emotional spending. Just like with emotional eating, I will spend money that I don’t necessarily have on things I don’t necessarily need when I’m feeling a strong emotion – like anger, sadness, depression, etc.
But there was even a time in my life were I had another spending trigger – boredom.
I used to “window shopping” when I was on my lunch break, but I’d come back with at least one new something in my car. And honestly, this was a hard habit to break because I loved getting out of the office and walking around the store.
But I was weak and bored and I would spend money without even thinking about it. And that’s exactly what a spending trigger does – it’s just like if you pull the trigger on a gun – you can put the bullet back once the trigger’s pulled.
When your spending trigger gets pulled, it’s almost impossible to stop the urge to spend because you’ve more than likely have already spent the money before you even realize what’s happened.
But not all is lost – you CAN stop yourself from losing control, but it’s going to take a LOT of self-control to do so.
1. Identify Your Trigger
The first thing you must do is identify what your specific trigger(s) is. Because without knowing what your trigger is, it’s going to be hard to stop yourself from accidentally pulling it.
So, for the next 30 days, write down ALL of your transactions in this format:
WHAT YOU BOUGHT
HOW MUCH YOU SPENT
WHY YOU SPENT THE MONEY YOU DID
and YOUR EMOTION WHILE MAKING THE PURCHASE.
The reason for this is help you identify your patterns – if every time you make an unplanned purchased and you wrote down that you were feeling an intense emotion, then your spending trigger is more than likely emotional spending.
If every time you write down that you had coupon, you may be chasing the thrill of the sale which is causing you to spend money you don’t need to and thus, is your spending trigger.
By keeping track of what you’re spending, how you’re feeling, and the reasons behind the purchases, you can identify your triggers and then work to keep them in check.
2. Develop a Plan
When you identify your spending trigger, develop a plan to control it. For instance, online shopping is horrible for an emotional spending like me because it makes it so easy for me to buy something when I’m upset, mad, or whatever without ever having to leave my house.
So, we removed all our debit card info from every single online shop so I can’t do that anymore. We even set up a PIN number on Amazon so I have to manually enter in a code before I can purchase something which helps me to stop and think about what I’m buying before I actually buy it.
3. Set up an “oops” fund
We have what we call our slush fund that helps us in case of budget mistakes. It’s an account that is designed to keep us in the black in case an unplanned expense happens.
This account comes in handy whenever one of us fails and succumbs to our spending trigger. It helps us rearrange our budget without going broke. It also forces us to discuss the mistake and how we can avoid the mistake in the future.
If you don’t already know your spending trigger, I encourage you to identify yours and design a plan that will help you stay inline with your financial goals.