Career & Money

From Splurger To Saver: How To Spot Your Emotional Spending Triggers And Break The Spending Cycle

By Emma Edwards
30th Sep 2020

Welcome to the Financial Wellbeing Bootcamp brought to you by ANZ. To sign up and be in the running to win $1,000 towards your savings, click here.

Oh, 2020. It’s been a wild ride. You could be forgiven for thinking that the only shred of joy left is hearing the postie arriving with your online shopping order. The occasional splurge is totally fine, but too many mindless purchases can add up to a big hole in your bank account.

If you’re a frequent splurger, you’ll be pleased to know we’re bringing you a four-week bootcamp to help you become a little savvier with your money. Our Financial Wellbeing Bootcamp, brought to you by ANZ, is inspired by their four-step financial wellbeing check-in, and loaded with tips and insights to help get you back on track.

If you’ve just joined us, make sure to check out all of our previous curriculum here to help you on the road to financial wellbeing. This week we’re showing you how to identify your spending habits and be aware of where your hard-earned money is actually going.

Identify Your Emotional Spending Triggers

Money itself is simple, it’s transactional. It’s actually our emotions that cause a stir. Emotional spending can be anything from cheering yourself up, drowning your sorrows, battling boredom at home, or even trying to impress other people. If you’re trading money for a feeling, you’re emotionally spending. And for some of us, it’s a common reason for our empty bank accounts.

When you’re making a purchase decision, try to identify patterns as to why you’re spending. If you find you’re always buying a new outfit on your lunch break during a stressful day at work, that could be a trigger for you. If you’re guilty of splurging online when you’re having a low self-esteem day, that could be a trigger for you.

By identifying what causes your negative spending patterns, you can set boundaries and retrain your mind.

Identify Your Vices

Clothes, shoes, wine, golf clubs, Carole Baskin memorabilia—we all have our vices. Identifying them is the next step to taking control. Now you know what your spending triggers are, look to what you buy when you’re seeking comfort in spending. An easy way to find your vices is to think about the purchases you regret the most; the ones that felt great at the time but ended up not really being worth it.

Let Go Of False Money Beliefs

Some of us carry unconscious money beliefs. Maybe you were told as a child that money was scarce or maybe you believed it caused arguments in your family. Perhaps you had a negative experience when asking for a pay rise and now you’re subconsciously struggling with feeling worthy of financial confidence.

Take the time to journal out or brain dump any negative thoughts you have about money, and acknowledge where that assumption might be coming from. It could help you move forward and focus on your financial future.

Think About What Truly Brings You Joy

So often we’re caught in the cycle of spending on things just ‘because’. We can leak money in various areas of our lives, which can make us feel like there just isn’t enough. Then we can get stuck in the mindset of ‘I’ll save when I earn more’, and end up putting it off for years as our lifestyle adjusts to every extra dollar that passes our hands. The hard truth is, if you spend all your money each week on $50,000, you could do the exact same thing if you earned $100,000.

Track your spending and record the spending that truly brought you true enjoyment and those that you can hardly even remember. When you stack all your spending towards things you really love, you can feel much more in control of your money and feel as though there’s actually enough to enjoy life.

Set Boundaries

All of these mindset hacks can then help you set your own personal boundaries to tackle your negative spending habits.

For example, if you find that you buy clothes on impulse when you’re stressed, your boundary might be waiting 24-48 hours before deciding whether or not to buy something. That way, you’re deferring the decision to a time when you’re less stressed.

If your vice is online shopping late at night because you’re tired and procrastinating studying, you might want to block shopping sites from your browser at your peak procrastination times.

If you find, particularly in lockdown, that you’re shopping out of boredom, try and anchor that trigger to something more positive. Phone a friend, go for a walk, or simply shut the laptop/phone screen off as soon as you feel temptation creeping in.

Once you know what you’re watching out for, your boundaries are much easier to stick to. Plus, it’s all about breaking that cycle. You’re strengthening your resistance muscle every time you do this, so keep at it.

Knowing why you spend is the key to lasting change to your financial wellbeing. Stay tuned for next week’s Financial Wellbeing Bootcamp, brought to you by ANZ, where we’ll be showing you how to save for a rainy day.

Keen to know more about how you can spend your money more carefully? Head here to discover how you can slash your grocery spend without losing your Masterchef status.

Image credit: Andre Hunter

Editor’s note: This article has been written and published by Urban List, and is sponsored by ANZ. Unless otherwise stated, all views and opinions belong to Urban List. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who make Urban List possible. Click here for more information on our editorial policy.

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