If shopping is something you do to alleviate stress and refresh yourself, you are not alone. If you have racked up credit card debt from all your shopping, you aren’t alone in that either. A lot of people fall into the category of “stress spenders.” Although this method it isn’t the worst way to relieve stress, it definitely isn’t a good one, either – especially if it is starting to or is already causing financial problems. Check out the tips below to get your stress spending under control.
Understand why you stress spend
First things first, try to evaluate your emotions and understand why you stress spend. Is it work stress? Family stress? Relationship stress? Financial stress? Do you spend because it raises your self-esteem? Is it because you’re lonely or bored? If you can identify why you spend, it can help you recognize it next time you are tempted.
Find something healthy to replace it with
Some people choose to lean on spending to raise their spirits because they think of it as being healthier than drugs, alcohol, or binge eating. Spending may be healthier for your body, but it can lead to financial failure very quickly. Try to find something that is not just “healthier,” but is actually healthy. Try going to the gym, running, or doing a home workout video when you are stressed. Working out actually has mood boosting properties that will last longer than the short boost you receive from buying something. You could also try meditation, healthy cooking, or taking up a hobby such as knitting, painting, or hand lettering.
Add up your total debt
Sometimes, just bringing your total debt into perspective and seeing that number written down will be enough to snap you out of stress spending. Figure out the amount of credit card debt you’re in and remember that number every time you are tempted to stress spend.
Come up with firm financial goals
Do you hope to purchase a house one day? Maybe a new vehicle? Have a dream wedding? Have $25,000 in your savings account? Figure out your short-term and long-term financial goals. Write down your goals and keep them with you. If your goal is to buy a home, snap a photo of your dream home and make it the background on your phone and computer so you don’t forget it the next time a shopping temptation arises. If you continue to stress shop, it will make it much harder to reach your financial goals.
Create a budget –and stick to it
The best way to make sure you aren’t overspending is to create a budget. If you need help creating a budget, there are various tools out there to help you. Budgets only work if you stick to them, so be sure to keep track of all payments and purchases. Use money tracking apps like Mint (or an “old-fashioned” checkbook register) to help you with this.
Wait 24 hours
If you see something you “need,” try to wait 24-48 hours before purchasing it. This gives you time to mull over the purchase, think about why you feel the need to make the purchase, evaluate if you really need the item, and see how it fits into your new monthly budget. Chances are, you will not return to the store to complete the purchase.
Stop “Treating Yourself”
It is completely okay (and encouraged) to treat yourself every once in a while, but it doesn’t have to be with material things. A lot of people who stress spend tend to tell themselves “I deserve it” after a long day at work or other stressful situation. Instead, treat yourself to a warm bath, a little extra snuggle time with your children, or watch a few episodes of your favorite show that you’ve been too busy for. If you are still longing for a material “treat,” set a “treat yourself” allowance each month so that you don’t overspend. This way, you can still shop without feeling guilty or putting yourself into debt.
Make it harder to spend
The harder it is to do, the less likely you are to do it. Remove all of your credit and debit cards from platforms like PayPal that make it easy to purchase in one click. Remove your cards from “saved payments” on websites like Amazon and others where you are a frequent shopper. Try unfollowing social media accounts that usually encourage you to spend. Same with email lists and newsletters that provoke purchases. Delete the apps you use for shopping on your phone. You might be surprised at how much difference removing these triggers and shortcuts makes on your desire to stress spend.
If you’re ready to put the stress shopping days behind you and start saving, Patriot can help. We offer a variety of savings account types, as well as debt consolidation loans. To learn more about how Patriot can help you build a strong financial foundation, call our contact center at 888-777-9982, visit any of our branches, or check out the personal finance section of our Learning Center blog.