Spending triggers. If you don’t already know what yours are, you’ll quickly learn during a no spend month!
Your spending triggers are probably such a habit that you don’t even recognize them. One of the great things about a no spend month is that it forces you to pay attention to your spending. Here are some common spending triggers you may face and suggestions for dealing with them.
Common Spending Triggers
Stores/Mall. If you go to the store or the mall without a need or a list, you’re opening yourself up to potential impulse buys. The #1 goal of retail stores is to convince you to part with your hard earned cash. Retailers pay marketing professionals big bucks for strategic product placement that appeals to your senses with bright colors and your mind with the illusion of sales.
Online Retailers. I don’t know about you, but for me, staying out of the stores is considerably easier than avoiding online retailers. Between your email inbox and brightly colored ads on every site (that stalk you), if you are online at all, you will be barraged with the temptation to spend each and every day.
With saved credit card information and the luxury of one click payment, online retailers make it too easy to buy. The ease of checkout, in addition to the promo codes, flash sales, and free shipping can be a recipe for disaster when you’re trying not to spend.
Solution? If you don’t have a real need and you don’t want to spend, stay out of the store, off the retail websites and automatically delete emails from retailers (especially this month!).
If you happen to see something you want or need, delay it! Tell yourself to wait until next month and, if you still want it, you can get it then. The key is to not give into the desire for immediate gratification.
In this day and age, convenience is no further than a finger tap away. You can have an Uber or pizza at your door in a matter of minutes. You can have your groceries in an hour without ever leaving your couch. Those new shoes you wanted? They’ll be there in 2 days (free shipping!). You don’t even have to wash and cut fruits and veggies yourself.
And credit cards make access to these conveniences easier than ever. No need to have cash when you can just swipe.
All this convenience is designed to separate you from your money. When you don’t have to physically make a purchase using anything other than a small piece of plastic, it doesn’t always compute that you just spent X dollars of your hard earned cash. And you don’t even give a second thought to how many hours of hard work it took to make a purchase.
Solution? Ban yourself from online purchases, credit card use, or pre-cut veggies for a month (try it!). Freeze (literally) your credit cards and force yourself to use cash for all purchases. Remove all the convenience apps off your phone. Plan meals ahead of time for those busy days. Do what you need to do to eliminate your convenience spending for a month.
Peer pressure. Ugh. It doesn’t stop at middle school. You don’t want to be seen as the “cheap” (or poor) one in your social circle or family, but you can’t join in on all the spendy activities and get control of your finances too. Celebrations of birthdays, holidays, weddings and other life events can be total money sucks. It’s hard to navigate a healthy social life when you are trying to keep spending in check.
Have the conversation. It’s not an easy one, but it’s necessary when you are trying to pay off debt or save more. Simply say you’re on a budget and have financial goals you are trying to reach. Not everyone will understand, but most will.
Say no. You don’t have to say no all the time, but saying no to the occasional night out won’t hurt anything. And, please, be honest. Don’t just make up lame excuses. If it’s a close friend or family member, let them know about your financial goals.
Suggest a change in plans. Host a potluck, suggest going out for lunch, rather than dinner, or happy hour, rather than late night drinks. Propose a different way of celebrating, such as a gift exchange (with a spending limit) rather than buying for everyone. Look for alternative options to expensive parties and events, such as hosting in your own backyard, having a DJ rather than a band, desert, rather than a 5 course meal, or 20 guests rather than 200.
Your feelings may have more of an affect on your spending than you give them credit for.
Maybe you’re stressed. Or hungry, or bored, or depressed, or upset. So. Many. Feelings. Sometimes you just really want those feelings to go away and, in the moment, you don’t care how much it costs.
Whether it’s retail therapy, dinner out, or drinks with friends, you are willing to throw caution to the wind to try to squelch these feelings. Though spending doesn’t cure the yucky feelings, it is a distraction.
Solution? Be mindful of your feelings and the desire to drown your sorrows in spending. Find alternatives. Invite friends or family over for dinner, go for a walk, call a friend, play a game, watch a Netflix movie, read a book or immerse yourself in a favorite hobby.
You’ll learn a whole lot about your spending triggers by participating in a no spend month. Being aware of the triggers can help keep spending in check.
Even if you’re not doing a no spend month, try keeping a spending journal to figure out where your biggest money leaks are and how you can stop them.
What are your spending triggers? Have you faced any of them during the no spend month?
Want to know how I’m doing on my No Spend Month Challenge?
No Spend Month Update #1