Impulsive spending is probably the number one cause of the average American’s financial woes. Consumer debt is at an all-time high because people tend to get things they can’t afford and don’t need. This type of spending is often linked to people’s emotional state rather than their ability to logically reason.
Sadly, this issue impacts almost every consumer at some point in their journey. However, it affects some people more than others. That’s because some of us have a predisposition to addictive behavioral patterns. In which case, some of us are more easily persuaded to make impulsive purchasing decisions than others.
Avoid Impulsive Spending
This used to be me before I became serious about properly managing my finances. When I was earning a decent salary, my household income indicated that my family was middle class. However, we rarely had disposable cash at the end of the month because we were making impulsive spending decisions.
Fortunately, our situation wasn’t dire at that time because we weren’t overwhelmed with bills though we did have debt. We also ensured that all of our bills were paid on time, but we were coming up dry at the end of the month. We had little money in our savings account, and we weren’t investing at that time. So whenever we experienced a financial emergency during those years, we had to use our credit cards. Fortunately, they kept us afloat, but they also kept us in short-term debt. And I wasn’t happy about that situation, so I started implementing tools to help me control my spending habits. And, they worked.
At this stage in my financial journey, I still use credit cards. However, I usually pay them off at the end of the month. My family has a nice nest egg in our savings account and a very healthy investment portfolio. This is because I took a concerted effort to better manage my family’s finances. And it has paid off many times over.
Take Herbs and Supplements
If you suffer from any addictive personality disorder, taking herbs and supplements can be very beneficial in alleviating obsessive, compulsive, and/or impulsive tendencies. Such personality traits play a major role in impulsive spending since it is a side effect of impulsive behavior.
Individuals who impulsively spend do so because they lack self-control. And this lack of control is often due to a deficiency in the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. Without getting too scientific, these are our “happy” hormones. They make us feel good, calm, peaceful, positive, motivated, encouraged, etc. They each have their role to play but suffice to say they are very instrumental in maintaining sound mental health.
Our bodies naturally produce these neurotransmitters, but some people don’t have a sufficient supply. These individuals using suffer from depression, addiction, anxiety, and similar mental health disorders. And certain behaviors like spending can temporarily alleviate the signs and symptoms of these illnesses. It gives them a “high.”
Like any other type of addiction, the person will come back for more and more each time they calm down from their high. This leads to increased spending in an attempt to regulate these neurotransmitters. It’s a vicious cycle.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Some herbs and supplements can help you overcome these symptoms. St. John’s Wort is an herb, and 5-HTP is a supplement – they are both very beneficial in treating such behaviors. I started taking them years ago and was able to successfully overcome my impulsive spending habit. I was likewise able to curtail other impulsive behaviors, which has greatly aided in improving my mood and mindset.
Schedule Purchasing Decisions
Delaying purchasing decisions was also greatly helpful for me. Anytime I desired to purchase something not included in my monthly budget, I purposely delayed my decision to buy it. I set a strict schedule that ensures that I wait at least three days before making variable, non-emergency purchases. However, if I need to decide sooner, I try to at least sleep on it overnight.
This has made a huge difference in my spending behavior. After waiting 1-3 days to purchase something, I usually don’t desire it anymore. That thing that was once so important suddenly became insignificant after I delayed my decision to purchase it.
Of course, there were times that I did decide to buy something after waiting the prescribed time to buy. However, I realized that I decided not to buy more often than after scheduling my purchasing decisions. This technique has helped me remain grounded throughout my money management journey.
Keep in mind that there are many strategies for scheduling purchasing decisions. It is advisable to set a schedule that works best for you. This strategy also works best in combination with herbs and supplements that curtail impulsive behavioral patterns.
Regulate Social Media Consumption
Social media is a major contributor to impulsive spending in modern society. It is littered with ads that encourage you to make hurried purchasing decisions. And it constantly presents us with things that we don’t need and often don’t truly want. It can be a consumerism trap if we don’t properly regulate our consumption of this medium.
The best thing that we can do for our budgets is to control how we interact with social media instead of allowing it to control our wallets. And we can easily do this by curating our social media feed. When we consume junk social media, we get targeted “junk” ads. In essence, if we engage with social media designed to keep us in a mental rut, the targeted ads will do the same.
If you regularly engage with content filled with violence, arguing, debating, sexuality, etc., you will probably see ads that negatively affect your holistic well-being. You will see plenty of adverts for fast food, alcohol, clothing, and apparel, etc. These types of ads are designed to invoke impulsive spending decisions.
On the other hand, when we engage with social media that help us improve our physical, spiritual, emotional, financial well-being, etc., we are fed targeted ads that encourage similar behaviors. These types of marketers are likewise trying to shape our buying behaviors. However, such ads are not designed to invoke impulsive spending.
This is because people rarely make impulsive decisions regarding their well-being. Think about the last time you just couldn’t wait to get the latest salad at your local health food store……It never happened, right???
Even more, purchasing these types of items will most likely help us make better financial decisions. If you purchase a new gym membership based on an ad, this will encourage you to exercise. Exercise increases your “happy” hormones, which means that you will less be inclined to make impulsive purchases.
These are just some tips and tricks that have helped me overcome impulsive spending. There are many others that are worth investigating if you want to secure a better financial future for yourself. Implementing measures to decrease your spending and increase your savings and investments will pay off in the long run.