We all do it. I am guilty of spending money on things I don’t really need… (you don’t see me but I am raising my hand acknowledging that I spend frivolously sometimes.) Why do I ? Because I can justify it in my head. I can tell myself til the cows come home that I NEED that extra pair of shoes or I NEED that new makeup (even though I have a ton of makeup I don’t even use). I NEED new shampoo even though I just bought some a couple weeks ago. It was on sale ( I use that one all the time, right Greg?)
You get what I am saying? If we want to spend money we justify it to ourselves to make us feel better about the money we are spending. So how do we break that cycle? Do you see it as a problem? Do you notice that you spend money on stuff you don’t really need?
I found this website called goodfinancialcents.com and there is an article regarding “How to break a bad Habit.” Check it out here. It is pretty good. There are lots of tips on how to stay out of trouble with money. Also, I really like the site because there is some solid information about planning your finances for the future. How many of us really understand mutual funds, IRA’s and how to invest for our future? That stuff is soooooo confusing, right? Well, Jeff has some really good explanations on his site so if you get a minute check it out!
So let’s talk some more about that bad habit of spending on stuff we don’t need. Let’s get to the why behind it. I truly believe if you can get to your “whys” you can solve anything. In this case, we are talking about the reason we spend on stuff we don’t need. Ever hear of “keeping up with the Joneses’ mentality?” Some of us face that. I may get jealous of that lady’s cute shoes or that really great coach purse or I will say “Greg, did you see all those PINK clothes Jenna had on her table….gasp! I NEED those!”
Do I really need them? Well, let me put it this way, I don’t run around naked often…or at all. I find myself comparing how I look to others and that is the problem because there is no one quite like me. (I can hear Greg’s thoughts already…. “Thank God!”)
Here are 5 reasons listed by Forbes magazine as reasons we spend money on things we don’t need:
- We think things=happiness
- We feel we deserve it
- We get suckered into buying something. Advertising-GAH! Sometimes I feel guilty for not buying something.
- We are jealous of others. Guilty!
- Because spending money is fun- yes I am guilty of this on occasion too, but I am a recovered spender…most of the time.
One blog I have come across recently and really enjoy is Becoming minimlist. The blog is all about de-cluttering our lives of stuff and not comparing ourselves to others. I really like the message behind the blog and I would encourage you to read it if you have the same trouble I have with comparing yourself to others. I think finding the root of your spending is so important and that is the first step to breaking the spending cycle.
In the list above, which one resonates with you? Here are some ideas on how to break the “spending cycle”:
- Before making a purchase, ask yourself if you really need it. I have found that asking myself that simple question can really help. It makes me question if I need an item or if I want an item. Sometimes asking yourself some key questions before making a big purchase can help you decide if it is worth it.
- If you are thinking about making a big purchase, sleep on it. Maybe consider sleeping on it for a couple nights. It really gives you some time to figure out if the purchase is really necessary or if you could do without it. We have done this a lot over the past year and a half and I think it really works
- Stop comparing yourself to others. This is easier said than done in my opinion. I want to look and feel my best. One thing I have realized, no matter how cute my clothes are or what I drive, it doesn’t matter if I am not being true to who I am. Our journey to financial freedom has helped me grow as a person in ways I never imagined. My goals have shifted. I care more about what kind of life I will have in 5 years and not so much about the material possessions I have in my life now. Don’t get me wrong, I still struggle with comparing myself to others and I still want to have nice things, but I tend to make more intentional decisions on items I purchase.
- Don’t feel bad about not buying something. Advertising is just that. Advertising. Companies want you go buy what they are selling. It’s ok to say no.
- Yes you deserve to treat yourself, but make sure it is a treat. If we treat ourselves every time we go to the grocery store what happens? It isn’t really a treat anymore, we just buy for the sake of buying. (I have my hand raised in the air because again I have been guilty of this! Ugh…) You work hard so you should be able to get nice things, right? I agree, but how about you save for something you really want and could really use instead of spending money on the little stuff that doesn’t matter. Create a limit. Give yourself a “treat” limit for a month or week or whatever. You don’t need everything right now. Some things are worth waiting for.
- Things do not= happiness. Have you ever really been happy because of stuff? It took me a while to realize that the answer was no, but the answer is no. Having self confidence and self love is the ultimate key to happiness in my opinion.
Material possessions will not equal happiness. Comparing ourselves to what others have only creates this mindset that we have to have something in order to be happy. In reality, we need to be in control of our happiness and figuring out what we need to be happy. It is totally ok to buy stuff that is really nice and that you can see yourself using, but make sure you are intentional about your spending habits. You may actually find it empowering when you say no to stuff you don’t really need as you are breaking the “spending” cycle.
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