This time a year it's hard to save money, I know, but cutting back on impulse buying can go a long way toward keeping your budget intact, not only at Christmastime but throughout the year. "I can't really afford this, but I love it! Oh, what the heck, I'll treat myself just this once." Sound familiar? I've said the same thing myself many times. And I'm not alone. A whopping 64% "regret our spending on short-term pleasures, including food, clothing, new cars, tech gadgets, and vacations," according to a study by banking and brokerage firm Schwab. Most of us wish we could manage our money better and save more for retirement.
So why can't we simply knuckle down and stop our spending? It turns out that living on a tight budget seems to bring about even more impulse spending. "It comes down to a failure to delay gratification and an inclination towards impulsivity, which occurs in all humans — but particularly (and ironically) among those whose budgets are already stretched thin, says psychiatrist Mark Tobak, MD." Humans who live on tight budgets grasp at any opportunity to experience pleasure in the hope of securing something for themselves in an unkind world, The greater the desperation, the greater the desire to take risks, such as buy up lottery tickets; it's a greater risk than a starting a savings account.
Then there's the "must have" ad campaigns that we get caught up in. This is especially true for millennials. "A recent Social Savings Survey from Ally Bank showed that 74 percent of millennials say social media influences their shopping." And let's not forget "Keeping up with the Jones." It's the need to fit in, to feel accepted...that we can have what our friends have. Certain items became status symbols. And for pity sakes, stay away from all the home shopping stations on TV!
Okay, so we know what makes us shop for things we can't afford and don't really need, but how do we curb our inclinations to do so? The key to getting ahead of our impulses seems to lie in a) recognizing them and b) planning for them. Call it money-mindfulness, if you will. it starts with turning off your social media if that is where your spending impulses come from. or make a deal with yourself that there won't be any online shopping after you've had that glass of wine. But if you do get to the point of purchase ask yourself;
1. Do I really need this and, more importantly, can I afford it? 2. Am I feeling impulsive and have I really thought this through? If you've managed to NOT buy the item in your shopping basket, congratulate yourself! Then turn your attention to your savings account. If you don't have one, this might be a great time to open one.
If you can get a little money into your savings account first, then you've already accomplished one of your goals. Kudos to you! Impulse spending isn’t the only way to use money to bring us joy. Watching your bank account or retirement savings grow can be a gratifying experience, as can unlocking the front door to your new home or knowing that you're a lot closer to having a wonderful retirement than you'd be if you'd bought all of those thingamabobs. I know this information can help me as I bravely face the shopping barrage that's due to hit this next week and for the next month or so, leading up to Christmas and into the New Year.
This does it for me this week. I'm hopping off for a little R & R with a few of my best buds. We haven't spent time together recently and I do miss seeing them. I'm sure we'll have a blast, even if we don't do much. Sometimes, just being together with friends is enough. Whatever your plans are for the weekend, stave safe and have some fun! Please join me back here on Monday. Until then, I wish you