Ready for a change in your finances? Done living paycheck to paycheck? Then you’re going to LOVE The Ultimate Guide to Changing Your Spending Habits! Guest post by Sarah of I Heart Frugal.
What if I told you, you can retrain your brain to stop overspending? Would you be on board to trick yourself into becoming a saver? I’m here to tell you it can be done and the amazing part is, it is not all that difficult!
Is spending money a habit for you? Sure, we all like to spend money, but when we spend beyond our means, it becomes automatic and debt takes over our lives.
Furthermore, did you know, there is actually a science behind your spending? Up until now, you have trained your brain to overspend. After frequent spending sprees, your brain is now programmed to spend automatically causing your willpower and your budget to fly out the window. Sadly, these spending habits can bury you far into debt and take over your life.
Habits can impact our lives in a positive or negative way. The habit of overspending has a negative impact on your life (bills, late fees, stuff, and clutter). In this post, I will teach you how to turn your spending habit into a more positive habit that will enhance your life.
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Why You Crave Spending
When you are rewarded, receptors in your brain light up. You get one big dopamine hit after another when you spend money. According to Psychology Today, when you buy something you ignite the reward center of the brain and it can truly become, like food or alcohol, an addiction.
Furthermore, your brain is actually able to separate the “high” you get from spending from the pain of paying your bills. In this way, you are able to ignore the overwhelming feeling of debt as you spend more. You can see why using “retail therapy” as a coping method becomes extremely easy.
Nonetheless, “retail therapy” is a habit for many spenders. Unfortunately, if you do not have the money to keep up with your spending, you will always be in debt. This means you will be paying more for everything because of interest and late fees. So now is your time to change!
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A person with a spending compulsion may spend for different reasons. Some poor spending habits are as follows:
• Spending to fill a void
• Spending while stressed
• Using credit cards and going over budget
• Not using a list at the store
• Eating out often
• Trying to keep up with the Joneses
• Using stuff to feel content
• Spending more than you have coming in
Amazingly, if you can decide why you spend, you can easily change your habit.
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Changing Your Spending Habit
An intriguing book called The Power of Habit – Why We do what we Do In Life and Business by Charles Duhigg discusses the brain-based research behind habits. Accordingly, a trigger is cued in your brain. Then an action is performed and rewarded. A habit is formed when you carry out this cycle over and over.
For example, a bad day at work is your cue to spend. After this bad day, you feel stressed and stop at Target (your action). Lastly, your reward is spending money on a new purse. However, the more you continue to spend in this way, spending becomes automatic and your brain expects or craves spending when you feel stressed.
Furthermore, this pattern or as the book calls it the “feedback loop” is typical in forming good and bad habits. In learning this, when we are stressed we can retrain our brains to expect a different action and reward. Yes, curbing your spending is as easy as identifying triggers and changing your action to something other than spending. This may take some guessing and testing, but once you find your spending triggers you can easily change.
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Pay attention to your spending triggers. How are you feeling when you go to a mall or start an online shopping spree (bored, stressed, lonely)? Once you learn your spending triggers, it is now time to take action. You will develop a new reward system to cope with your trigger.
Urge to spend + Store or online spending = Reward (New purchase)
Urge to spend + (New action) = Reward
We are going to replace that middle action, buying something, with an action that will replace spending and enhance your life!
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New Action Ideas
The key here is to find something else you like to do to relieve stress and stop your spending urge. Also, evidence shows when you start making small improvements (like changing your spending habits), it carries over to other parts of your life. Here are some ideas for replacement actions:
• Bike riding
• Taking an exercise class with a friend
• Inviting a friend over for coffee
• Playing a game
• Playing with your kids
• Learning to meditate
• Phoning a friend (you may just need a listening ear)
• Writing in a journal
• Revisiting your financial goals
You are welcome to add any ideas that will benefit you. The best ideas are actions that will enhance your life in a positive way such as exercise. Choose something you like to do, but will benefit you.
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There is a science behind your spending.
If you are a spender, you can convert yourself to a saver in three simple steps. First, learn your spending triggers. Next, when triggered, replace your spending with another action (use the list above or come up with your own). Lastly, your brain will start to crave the reward of the new habit such as a running high, the release of journaling your feelings, or the peace and calmness of meditation. Whatever your case, try to change your spending habits and begin saving money for your future. Take that first small step to crawling out of your debt cave and you will be on track to your own financial paradise.
More helpful resources:
- How to Start a Budget the Easy Painless Way
- How To Save Money When You Can’t Afford It
- 7 Ways to Still Date Your Spouse When Money is Tight
- The 2 Biggest Budgeting Lessons to Make Your Budget Stick
- 5 Ways to Get Your Debt Snowball Rolling Today
- How to Save Money When You’re Broke
- 4 Tips for Getting Out of Debt on a Limited Budget
- What To Do When You’ve Racked Up More Debt
- 10 Amazing Bullet Journal Ideas to Organize Your Money
- How I Afford to be a Stay at Home Mom
- Never Pay Full Price at Restaurants
- 30+ Real Ways to Earn Money From Home
What kind of spender/saver are you? Please leave me a comment! I would love to hear from you!
About the Author
Sarah is a former teacher turned blogger! She is a loving wife and boy mama. She loves all things frugal and thrifty and believes in living an amazing life within your means. You can learn more about Sarah over at I Heart Frugal.
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