Whether retail therapy is a major reason you now find yourself dealing with debt or you simply want to shop to boost your spirit during financial struggles, continued unplanned spending typically makes the situation worse. Retail therapy makes sense: buying something nice or doing something unplanned for yourself boosts endorphins and positive feelings, which can temporarily reduce the impact of stress. The stress always returns, though, which makes retail therapy an expensive long-term solution. Here are three ways to quash your spontaneous spending habits as you work on debt and financial stability.
Put a timer on your impulse buys. Impulse buys are easy, especially when shopping online. Within 30 seconds, you can click through to check out, spending hundreds of dollars on items you might not be as excited about when they arrive. Experts recommend putting items in your shopping cart and then walking away for a few days. Many times, once stress and emotional attachment subsides, you make a different decision about the purchase.
Find a different -- lower cost -- outlet for stress relief. Take up walking, yoga or other hobbies that don't drive up expenses long-term. If you can find another activity that increases adrenaline and positive feelings, you won't need to shop or buy so much.
Make splurging part of your budget so you don't spend too much without realizing it. Everyone does need a treat from time to time, so don't cut splurges completely out of your budget. When you keep things too rigid, you run the risk of resenting your budget, which could lead to acting out with a large spending spree in the near future. Instead, let yourself spend a specific, reasonable amount each month on splurges, treats or unnecessary items.
If you're dealing with a debt load that can't be addressed by better money management, consider speaking with a bankruptcy attorney. You do have options for resetting your financial situation.
Source: Barron's, "6 Ways to Avoid Spending Yourself into Debt," Abby Schultz, Feb. 06, 2017