3 Emotional Spending Triggers – What’s Yours?

Photo by Artem Beliaikin from Pexels

Ever bought something on impulse just cause you “felt like it” or “but it’s on 50% off” ? Perhaps you’ve caught yourself on a shopping spree when you’re stressed out, bored, under-appreciated, incompetent, unhappy, one too many time.

On the flip side, you might even spend emotionally when you are happy (think about what you bought when you got your last raise)? 
While giving yourself a treat occasionally is fine, emotional spending occurs when you buy something you don’t need and, in some cases, don’t even really want, as a result of what you’re feeling at the moment. To curb those habits, start with identifying the triggers:

#1 Competition
Imagine this – there’s a huge weekend sale with slashed prices on your favourite brands (did someone say Black Friday?). Yes the slashed prices might be a great pull factor; but on any other day, would you be waking up at 4 in the morning to snatch that deal? Probably not.

When there’s a limit, your brain might go into a competitive frenzy thinking you need to “win it” just cause others might have it and you’ll lose out on that chance. Similarly, you might change your “want” to a “need” if you find out a family member, friend, colleague has a particular item you’ve been eyeing. 

Solution: It’s not a competition – there will always be another “flash” sale, another phone, another dress, another car. Think about how much difference it’ll make for you to have it now, and in a month (where you can have time to save up for it). If the pros list isn’t much longer than the cons, you might want to rethink that purchase.

#2 Boredom
Is an online store the top 3 websites you visit when you’ve got nothing to do? If that’s the case, your emotional spending might be triggered by being bored. Afterall, shopping kills time and can be fun when done at leisure so it’s easy to fall into this trap.

Solution: The next time you catch yourself going onto an e-commerce store as you lay in bed or have nothing to do, try to check out other informative websites instead (such as WealthUp), or find out more about an activity you can do during the weekend. This way you’ll be spending time doing something productive even if it costs you some money. 

#3 Perceived Value
“Oh, it’s now 50% off!” you say as you put the $500 boots into your cart. You’ve always believed that getting a good value deal is best, so you might head towards the clearance rack or sales section only. While this could land you the deal of a lifetime, it could also lead you to be spending more than you intended just because you think you’re getting something of higher value for less. 

Solution: Shop with a budget in mind to spend in total. If you find something at a discount, put it in your basket and take some time going around the store before deciding. After a while, your interest might drop as you see other items. Before you head to the cashier, take a step back and look at your discounted items and ask: “Would I buy this if it was not on sale?” If no, put it back. If yes, lucky you for catching that deal! 

Written by

Cheryl Toh

Last updated on

February 20th 2020, 3:34 pm

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