Our 2 Cents

Don’t Let Retail Therapy Derail Your Finances

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shutterstock_69682981Many people spend money based on their emotions or how they are feeling that day. This could be a major threat to your budget and jeopardize your financial goals. Have you ever purchased something because if felt good, boosted your self-esteem or helped you feel better after a bad day? Check out the following behaviors to see if they could be affecting how you spend.

Emotional Spending. Depending on whether you’ve had a good or a bad day, a trip to the store might sound like a good ‘reward.’ After all, buying yourself a new outfit or electronic gadget can reassure you that “things will get better.” But before you grab your wallet, take a minute to think about how you feel.  Ask yourself if buying something today could hurt your budget, leaving you feeling anxious or guilty when you realize you bought something you really didn’t need.

Esteem Buying. We have all felt the pressure of “Keeping up with the Jones’.” Social networking sites make our friends and family look like they have perfect lives, enjoy expensive vacations, and wear fashionable clothing. This pressure can wreak havoc on your budget and self-esteem. Remember that just because someone appears to “have it all” doesn’t make it true.

Avoidance Shopping. If you are trying to avoid an unpleasant situation, it’s a bad idea to head to the store. Shopping can feel like a good way to escape the stress of life, but facing the underlying problem and being honest with yourself is always the best policy.

Spending Dates. If you have friends or family who ask you to shop or dine out with them, you may be more likely to spend over your budget. Instead of doing group activities that involve spending money, suggest gathering for a meal at home, where everyone can bring a dish. Do you have frugal friends? If so, bring them along on your next shopping trip. A cost-conscious companion can talk you out of unnecessary spending!

“Special Interest” Spending. Having a hobby or interest can help you reduce stress and increase confidence, but it could also lead to budget woes if it requires costly equipment or other large expenses. Go ahead and enjoy your hobby — just be careful that your new interest doesn’t eat up all your budget so you can’t afford the items you really need. Try healthy hobbies such as gardening or exercise. Both of these healthy activities create a feeling of accomplishment, help clear your mind, and can be inexpensive.

Sales and Bargains. It’s great to look for sales and bargains, but before you find yourself tempted by a good deal, ask yourself a few questions:

  • If I buy this, do I have room in my house for it?
  • Will this purchase fit into my budget?
  • Can I borrow or rent the item when I need it instead?

Try not to purchase food items just because you have a coupon or because it’s a good deal. If your family won’t eat it, it’s a waste of money.

Visuals and Sense Appeal. Stores and advertisers know that buyers are attracted to store displays with sale items or special offers placed at the front of the store, at the end of an aisle, and at eye level. Effective wording on displays might include ‘wholesale,’ ‘less,’ ‘free.’ You may have also noticed that some advertisements for larger ticket items often feature strong images and ideas. Becoming aware of these techniques will help you separate your ‘wants’ from ‘needs’ when you encounter these sensory blitzes.

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About the Author:

Jamie is a customer experience champion whose been serving the needs of her customers and clients for more than 15 years. She strives to provide her customers with the information needed to make the best decisions for themselves and their families, for their unique situation. Education and information are knowledge, and knowledge is power!