How to stop Compulsive Spending

Compulsive Shopping is something we are all guilty of doing but cutting back spending can be very hard. Especially if you haven’t considered your motivation for buying things in the first place.

From one-click online shopping to mobile wallets, paying for goods and services has never been easier. Unfortunately, the accessibilities we love can also lead to “out-of-sight”, out-of-mind” attitude to money management.

What are the characteristics of compulsive shopping?

The characteristics include:

  • Difficulty resisting the purchase of unneeded items
  • Financial difficulties because of uncontrolled shopping
  • Obsession with shopping for unneeded items
  • Problems at work, school, or home because of uncontrolled shopping
  • Spending a great deal of time doing on research on desired items and/or shopping for unneeded items.

The good news is that with a little mindfulness, you can stay on-track with your spending and budgeting habits.

Spending mindfully is about thinking about why we are making certain financial choices. All of us spend and save, invest and splurge, according to a mix out our short term wants and our long-term goals. By implementing a more planned approach to those decisions, we become aware of the difference between our needs and our values – and start determinedly spending in a way that makes us feel happier and more focused.

No matter where you’re at in your financial journey, anyone can benefit from practicing mindful spending habits. Try these ten tips to help you curb impulse buys and unnecessary purchases.

Ten ways to tackle compulsive spending:

Get to know your spending triggers

Ask yourself what’s going on when you spend money on things you don’t really need. A ‘spending trigger’ is a feeling or situation that makes it easy for you to break your spending rules. For some people, it can be feeling stressed or bored, while others want to buy things their friends have got. Make a list to help you understand what triggers your impulse to spend.

Track your spending

Every time you buy something you don’t need, make a note of what you bought and how much it was. Adding up your purchases can help you to see exactly how much you’re compulsively spending so you can adjust. There are some specialist banking apps which shows you where your money is going in certain categories. It can help you to decide if there are any areas you might want to try to save money. You can also add your accounts from other providers to see all your balances and transactions in one place.

Work out your reasons for buying something

Make a checklist to help you work out whether something you want is just an impulse buy – ask yourself these questions. Why do you need it? Could you get a cheaper alternative if you wait or go elsewhere? How much use will you get out of it? Have you bought things like this before and regretted it later? These simple questions can help you keep your cool when faced with the enticement to binge.

Control how you use your card

There are many banking apps that can help you to control how and where you spend your money. You can set limits on payments online or abroad and cash withdrawals, and block transactions to certain types of merchants or temporarily freeze your card for extra piece of mind.

Avoid temptation

Think carefully about which marketing promotions you sign up for. When you buy things online, you’ll often be asked to opt in to offers by email, text message, phone and post. The more offers you sign up for, the more you could be tempted to spend. If you want to stop getting offers from a seller, look for the ‘unsubscribe’ link in its emails. Be mindful of who you follow on social media. If you keep buying something an influencer promotes, it might be a good idea to mute their posts.

Manage your retail therapy

Buying stuff to treat yourself makes you feel good – that’s why it’s called retail therapy. But the thrill soon wears off and isn’t worth the financial hangover. If you overspend when you go shopping with friends, arrange to meet those friends somewhere else and go shopping another time. Think of simple ways to enjoy your spare time, like a DVD at home with your friends instead of going to the cinema.

Set a realistic budget

Setting a budget can help you to focus on your financial goals. There’s plenty of help available to guide you through setting a budget. There’s plenty of help available to guide your through setting a budget.

Get help from a friend

Before you buy something, you think you might not need, call a friend. Explaining why you want to buy something could be enough to stop you in your tracks. You could also ask them to help you with your budgeting – getting someone else to take a look at how you manage your money and spending can help you to be more impartial and help you to stick to your plan.

Use cash

Thanks to credit and debit cards – and digital payment platforms like Apple Pay and Google Pay – cash isn’t always king. Buck the trend and stop at an ATM before your next shopping trip. By withdrawing only what you need, you’ll be less likely to overspend. If you can leave your debit and credit cards at home, even better.

Get free help from the experts

There are loads of free advice available to help you keep your money in order to control compulsive spending. The Money Advice Service has tips, calculators and tools to help you control your money and plan for your future.

So, what is the best way to restrain compulsive spending?

The most effective first step in treatment is to identify why and how your shopping initially became a problem. A useful approach is to keep track of your triggers e.g. anxiety, loneliness etc. And one needs to be reminded that additional material goods and services initially provide extra pleasure, but it is usually temporary. The extra pleasure wears off. It is also helpful to emphasise the importance of managing credit cards or getting rid of credit cards. It is a known fact that the use of cash tends to reduce excessive spending.

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