Are you a spendthrift? 3 tips to overcome bad spending habits
If you love to spend money, you are not alone. Many people get a little buzz from spending money. That feeling you get when you make a purchase may be slowly driving you into the poor house. Here are some tips to overcoming your spendthrift ways. The boo
If you love to spend money, you are not alone. Many people get a little buzz from spending money. That feeling you get when you make a purchase may be slowly driving you into the poor house. Here are some tips to overcoming your spendthrift ways.
The book The Power of Habit explains the nature of a habit in three steps, the cue, the routine and the reward. Whenever we develop a habit, according to the book, it follows that pattern. A cue acts as a trigger. My phone beeps. We respond with the routine — the habit itself. I check my email, Facebook and Twitter and return to my work ten minutes later. We, then, receive a reward. I feel loved because someone interacted with me.
The same pattern is at work with spending. When we’re in a store, we’re surrounded with signals to buy. For the worst spendthrifts, the biggest temptations are deep discounts. Big discounts justify our guilty pleasure of spending money. Is the reward really having the new thing? Maybe not. The reward may be the little buzz we get from spending money. How to break the habit?
1. Look at the cue
If you love to window-shop but tend to go from looking to buying, start by not looking. Find something else to do that won’t put you in harms way. If you are on a limited budget, window-shopping may be pure torture.
2. Focus on the routine
Identify those times when you spend money on things you honestly don’t need. What could you do instead? If clothes are the problem, make a deal with yourself that when you don’t buy clothes you were considering, you’ll do something else you love, instead—that isn’t so costly. It could simply be buying a soda or an ice cream at the food court instead of that cute new top. Change the routine.
3. Check the reward
If when you change the routine, you don’t feel as good or better afterward, you may not be satisfying the craving. Try a different substitute. Consider going to a movie or renting a DVD, anything else, to see if you can get the same pleasure with less money. Very quickly you’ll change the habit and save some money!
Remember that when you buy something on sale that you don’t need, you’ve still spent money you didn’t need to spend. One way to find out if you have a problem is to inventory your closet. If you discover lots of clothes you don't remember you had, you can benefit from a little bit of habit therapy. Read The Power of Habit._
Devin Thorpe, husband, father, author of Your Mark On The World and a popular guest speaker, is a Forbes Contributor. Building on a twenty-five year career in finance and entrepreneurship that included $500 million in completed transactions, he now champions social good full time, seeking to help others succeed in their efforts to make the world a better place.