17 Tips to Cure Your Spending Addiction
Are you addicted to spending money? As it turns out, you aren’t the only one. On average, Americans spend $164.55 each and every day on a variety of things. Weekly expenses like groceries, fuel for your car, and entertainment can make it difficult to stop spending money, but there’s still hope. Your weekly and monthly expenses should be treated differently than purchasing a new pair of designer jeans, however.
Psychology Behind Spending Addiction
A spending addiction is very similar to other forms of addiction. Many people might choose to spend money in order to numb or suppress their feelings. The feeling when you make a purchase floods your brain with dopamine, making you feel good. This chemical reaction in your brain can easily become addictive and trigger you to repeat the behavior over and over again.
Ways to Cure Your Spending Addiction
Like we mentioned earlier, during a spending addiction can be treated in a similar fashion as other addictions but we have provided a few tips to help you get started.
Create and Follow a Budget
By sticking with a budget, you’ll be able to better manage your spending habits. In simple terms, a budget is a plan for your finances. You consider your income, expenses, and savings to allocate your money appropriately based on your goals. By following your budget (or plan), you will ensure that you will reach your financial goals.
No two budgets are identical. Because we all have different income, expenses, and goals, you should work to develop a plan for your money. For example, if your goal is to save an extra $4,000 for a vacation, you should allocate more of your money towards savings. If your goal is to pay off your mortgage, you should trim back other expenses and increase payments on your mortgage. Ultimately, it's up to you on how you craft your budget, but you can learn more budgeting principals here!
Find Joy in Other Sources
One of the reasons people are addicted to spending money is because of the release of hormones whenever you purchase an item. If you can find a similar joy from another activity, like going to the gym or listening to music, you will be less tempted to spend money.
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Develop New Habits
These habits could be many different things. Maybe it’s going to the grocery on a full stomach so you don’t overspend, or creating a list before you go to you don’t make unnecessary purchases. Either way, developing healthy spending habits is a must to cure your spending addiction.
An addiction is not cured overnight. It will take some time and depending on the level of addiction, sometimes it can take longer than you initially expect. Know that it will take at minimum one month to correct your behaviors, but it can take more. This will help you to stay motivated knowing that you aren’t “failing”.
Know Your Triggers and Avoid Them
Do you have to spend money every time you got to the mall? If so, this might be a good place to avoid. Some of the most common spending triggers are:
- Unexpected windfall – think tax returns or a bonus at work
- Locations – places like the mall can cause you to spend money you don’t want to
- Depression – if you’re feeling down, you’re more likely to spend
- Advertising – all of those promotional emails you get can trigger you to spend money
Fill Your Day to Limit Boredom
Boredom can cause you to spend money even if you weren’t planning on it. Fill your day with activities to limit your spending. It might be spending more time with your family, starting a new hobby, or working on getting more slumber.
Go on a Spending Detox
How long has it been since you’ve gone 7 days without spending ANY money? For many of us, it’s been since we were teens or had no money to spend. Going on a spending detox might be the cure you’re looking for and while it’s not easy, it can definitely be worth it. To go on a spending detox, you’ll need to consider a few things.
- How long am I going on a spending detox?
- What bills do I have coming up?
- Are there any other necessary expenses that I’ll need to pay? (Think gas for your car or groceries)
- Can I pay for these things ahead of time?
To start a spending detox, answer the questions above and start planning. Pay any upcoming bills ahead of time if possible and allocate a certain amount of money for expenses you cannot prepay. Then, it’s time to start your detox. Limit your spending to only vital expenses and do away with the rest.
Planning things out ahead of time can help you to know what to expect. And that goes for just about anything. If you are planning on going to the grocery, create a list beforehand so you do not purchase unnecessary items. If you are planning on going to the bar with friends, limit yourself to a set number of drinks beforehand. Planning can help you to manage your spending and limit binge spending.
Talk to Others
Speaking with others about your habits can help you to stay on track. Like many addictions, you can find support groups to help you along the way. By talking to others, you’ll find it easier to stay motivated and spend less money.
Keep Track of Progress
Knowing where you start is an important piece of all things personal finance related. And that’s no different for curing your spending addiction. Remember when you had $1.37 in your checking account? That’s a good thing to remember the next time you receive a marketing email from your favorite company about your favorite product.
Celebrate Small Victories
Didn’t go out to eat for lunch with your colleagues? Good for you! Celebrate these small victories as they will add up to bigger ones. And no, that doesn’t mean you should celebrate by spending money. Instead, take an hour to relax at the end of the day instead of spending your night cleaning or working.
Keep a Spending Journal
Start a spending journal that tracks your purchases on a daily basis. You can then notice trends in your spending and adjust accordingly. This journal should pair with your budget to help keep your spending in order. You can also consider using a budgeting app to track your spending.
Use this journal for more than keeping track of your purchases. You can also note your feelings, temptations, and victories to help you keep track of your progress.
Give Yourself a Break
Have you ever heard of the idea of a “cheat meal” when on a diet? In short, you give yourself a meal in which you eat whatever you would like in order to keep yourself motivated. Dieting longterm has an abysmal success rate because people become unmotivated and eventually give up. By scheduling temporary “breaks”, you will be more likely to succeed.
Depending on your level of addiction, this might not be a good idea, however. Some people find that after their “break” it becomes harder to get back on track with your goals. You’ll need to decide if a temporary break is right for you.
What should my “break” consist of?
A break in a diet is quite different than a break in spending money. For your spending break, you could allocate a certain amount of money towards something you’ve been wanting for a while. For example, maybe you’ve been wanting a new pair of sweatpants for a while but you’ve been on a spending detox. After a set time period, reward yourself by purchasing the pants.
Get More Sleep
For many people the last few hours of your night before bed are spent browsing the web and social media websites. And you just might happen to run across an ad or post about your favorite products. Instead, put the phone away and get to sleep earlier, decreasing the likelihood of this happening.
Unsubscribe from Marketing Emails and Push Notifications
Nothing is worse for someone with a spending addiction to get a push notification letting them know that pair of jeans is now on sale. Unsubscribe from these notifications to help limit your interaction with these companies.
Want to take it a step further? Consider deleting these apps that cause you to spend money so you won’t be tempted.
See a Therapist or Financial Advisor to Develop a Plan
If nothing seems to be working for your spending addiction, you should consider seeing a therapist or financial advisor to help guide you. They will help you develop a plan in order to control your spending and keep you on track.
Curing your spending addiction is not an overnight process. It will take time, dedication, and willpower in order to overcome this disease. Luckily, there are many different things you can do to keep your spending in check. From creating a budget to unsubscribing from marketing emails, curing your addiction will not be simple. Depending on your level of addiction you might consider consulting a financial advisor or therapist to help you curate a plan to minimize your spending and reach your financial goals.