How to Identify Your Spending Triggers and Control Them
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Has your wallet taken a hit? Are you ready to stop the money leaks? Find out what your spending triggers are and how you can fight back!
Identifying Spending Triggers
Last week I mentioned how you can reboot your finances with one simple trick – track your spending on a daily basis.
One of the biggest reasons we break our budget is overspending. There are cases of major purchases killing our savings, but more common are impulsive buys we make that on their own aren't too bad, but when combined can empty our savings account and can cause us to feel stressed out.
Harris Interactive found around 53% of people they surveyed admitted they made purchases to celebrate an occasion.
On average, an American adult has $4,717 of credit card debt yet 63% of Americans do not have enough in the bank to cover a $500 emergency.
Does any of this sound familiar?
Chances are if you're listening to this podcast you're looking to do better. So how can you break the cycle?
Tarra Jackson, also known as Madam Money is here to share her story.
In this episode we get into:
- how she knew she had a spending problem
- the triggers that pushed her and how she began fixing them
- resources to that helped her and which you should look at together
Hope you enjoy!
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Resources to Gain Control Over Your Spending Triggers
If you two are ready to fight those spending triggers, here are some resources to check out:
- Best Budget and Money Apps: Personal Capital, Tiller, Mint
- My Book: Jumpstart Your Marriage and Your Money
- Financial Fornication
- Know the 8 emotional spending triggers
- 7 Psychological Triggers That Cause Spending
- 7 Staggering Statistics About Our Shopping Habits
Signs of Overspending
Elle: Many times we don't realize what's going on until after the purchase. And that can be detrimental especially for couples.
If both of them aren't aware of what's going on you have to keep your eyes out for signs that you're overspending.
Tarra: In my book Financial Fornication I talk about how we spend the most we feel belief and you're not feeling well or you're feeling down or whatever you're probably going to go for anything that have a transaction because a transaction release of that dopamine release the feel-good mechanism.
If you open a closet and there's a whole bunch of stuff with so the price tag on them.
They'll hide some of the things that they purchase if you happen to find a whole bunch of stuff hidden in places where they shop alone because they don't want to be ridiculed or told that they can't do it.
You know it causes some form of arguments with money they get a serious high off of that transaction but they deal with severe buyer's remorse. So when I was dealing with major depression I would go and spend money.
My thing was food alcohol and technology anything electronic. And so I had all the tech things you can think of and I've eaten you know and now I know five 18 plus and I've gained all this weight and I have a hangover and so the next day I'm like why did I spend all that money it just made me feel worse. And because I feel worse what did I do.
I try to go back for the high which was another transaction so I would go find some other stuff to buy. So it's a vicious cycle and you really get a handle on.
Elle: Stress has been a recurring theme with people I've talked to.
I know from personal experience when you feel like you're losing control about some aspect.
Maybe it's work or family; you feel like spending can temporarily fix it you have control over that.
It could also be a comparison. There's an expectation maybe because of your family your income your position that you have to make these purchases to keep up whether it is explicitly stated or implied.
And for some who struggle with boredom they see shopping as an outlet now Tara she's able to look back and she saw that there were major stresses that she was dealing with that led her to spend more.
Tarra: one of the things I have to understand if I had understood why would I spending. Why would I spend like I was doing it it was because I was in it because of how I was feeling and I was dealing with a lot I was dealing with loneliness. I had broken up with my boyfriend for over 10 years who might have well been my husband. It felt like a divorce. I was hypertensive and had diabetes so I would take a lot of medication. So some of those medications they have side effects. Physical and mental side effects that cause some to cause depression.
I was dealing with a lot of stress. I had lost my job a lot you know. And that causes a whole lot of other stress.
And then money issues cause stress on top of that. I was dealing with emotional trauma.
I had lost my grandmother and then a year later I lost my mother and then I had a need for control. If I could control the world around me I have to control something so I could control what I bought in my spending and all of that. So and then I was dealing with a whole lot of grief with all of that loss in my finding out my son had mental health issues and dealing with that. That kind of exacerbated everything. So when I nail down what my symptoms were I had to address the symptoms in order to stop what I was doing.
Fixing Spending Triggers
Tarra: There were four things that I decided that I was going to do to fix it.
What I had to admit it I had to admit that I had a problem. I had a mental problem that was caused by all of these emotional traumas that were going on around me. I also dealt with anxiety.
After 9/11 I had a severe anxiety attack which I had to get on medication but I wasn't taking my medication which caused more depression. So I had to admit to one, that I had a problem. I've been had to heal it.
So I had to go and get some help from a medical professional or mental health professional that can help me talk through it. Helped me to adjust and put me on the right medication to address certain things.
In the third thing I did was I had the Quit it. I had to perform what I call financial abstinence in my book Financial fornication. I talk about financial abstinence. I had to stop.
So I would the temptations so I could have access to my credit card. I blocked the internet shopping for my from my computer and it was more psychological so when I had an urge to go to my favorite internet site I blocked those sites.
No it wouldn't be easy to access it and then I started limiting my cash. I thought of putting myself on allowance so I would put money away in accounts where Bill automatically came out or in a savings account where I had to work a little harder to get and I only kept access you know limited access to cash or that. So I relatively had to put myself on allow it because temptation is real when you're going through major trauma like that. And then I had to deal with it. You know I had to deal with the fact of what I was feeling so I had to find healthier ways to deal with it. So you know maybe having it out with my girlfriends and we go walking right you know you know exercising to have a sister circle to talk to my mother when she was alive or talk to you about my sister or spending more time with my son. So those are the four things that I had to incorporate in my life.
Overspending is a Symptom
Elle: I think Tara has some great points here because sometimes we tried to treat the symptom and not get to the root of it. So how do you fight back against these psychological pressures. Tara had mentioned she found ways to minimize that temptation now for many of us had seemed to be a daily part of her life. We get pressures on what to buy the newest things and it can wear down on us. And I'm not talking about the television.
It seems like the entire internet is sponsored by ads and powered by ads in our willpower isn't limitless. So if you can make sure you are opting out of Dallas for emails if you need to unsubscribe to those sales emails unroll me is really helpful.
If you're going out, make sure you leave your credit cards at home. You don't want to have that temptation because sometimes we see a deal.
Yes, I know it could be 50 percent off but if you weren't planning on spending that money and you really don't need it you're doing more harm than good. And if you have to do this all the time.
I have a shopping list before I step into the store. What this does is it sets me up mentally that this is what I need to pick up and helps me focus on that and not get distracted by what again is on sale or what they cleverly put out there to tempt me to buy.
And of course, embrace accountability to know how I love to talk about money dates and how important they are.
I'm not going to rehash everything here but I do want to point out that having a weekly or monthly date can be helpful because you're both reviewing the cash flow.
If there's a lot of spending we can catch it when it's a small problem rather than something larger and you may find out that your spending is a sign of something deeper.
Tarra mentioned depression bipolar disorder or even compulsive spending.
These are serious health issues that do need to be addressed and one of the best things you can do is have open and honest communication so you can find a qualified professional to help.
Helping One Another, Instead of the Blame Game
Tarra: I'm going to talk a lot about that in my next book called The 4 Financial Languages how to talk about finances.
It's a language so we speak spending they are investing and giving and that one you have to be one of. I share with people who don't judge someone else because they're sort of different than yours.
So if someone is a spender it's not that their language is wrong. It could be wrong if it's excess but you just respect it but respect what the person is going through.
Just because you don't understand it doesn't mean that they need to be ridiculed or chastised about it.
Some things may be beyond their control and if it is then we need to help them seek help. So you know think understand to be understood.
Sometimes you need to have that serious conversation with them and ask a lot of questions to help them to help you understand what they're going through.
What are some of the triggers? What are some of the symptoms so they can get the appropriate help.
If you don't feel like you are ready to have a conversation alone with them or not equipped to do that then you know find someone to assist you with that.
For example, I do a lot of financial crisis management where I am the mediator with couples sometimes when they're dealing with those money issues and most of the time the money issues is just a remnant of something else. Whether it's communication whether it's mental or physical health issues and all that. So find the one that you mutually respect that can possibly help you through the conversation.
If you don't feel like it you know you feel like you're ready to do it. Your job has an employee assistance program an AP program. They may have some services to help you through that process as well because when you're dealing with the one that's filled with mental health issues they're in a fragile state and some they know some may know it and some may not. So you want to have the one that can help guide you through that and find a professional to do that.
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Like the music in this episode? Our theme song is by Gentle Regime. Additional music by Lee Rosevere and Logan from Music for Makers in this episode.
This post was originally released in July 2017. Show notes have been updated May 2019.
Nice! Knowing how to identify your triggers is super important. I’ve found methods to recognize when something has triggered me into thinking I want to buy something I usually wouldn’t need. From there I can usually logic myself out of the purchase.
That’s awesome Lance! Recognizing those triggers is the first step so congrats. What seems to be your big trigger?