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How to Outsmart Your Overspending Triggers

If you are one of the many who struggle with overspending, by becoming more aware of your signature overspending triggers, you will be better armed with the knowledge to craft a plan of action to avoid them. When it comes to overspending, self-knowledge is definitely power!

Identifying what triggers your particular overspending will help you be more conscious of the times when you are most vulnerable to overspend. If you are not sure what triggers you, keep a log of overspending incidents, making note of the following:

• When was it?
• Where were you?
• Who were you with [if applicable]?
• What was the situation?
• What were you feeling before overspending?
• What did you buy?

Once you have collected enough data, start to analyze it for significant trigger patterns. For example, you may learn that certain situations are connected with overspending. Perhaps it’s difficult to resist a bargain. You may find that whenever Bloomingdale’s has a sale, you’re there. Or, after a long day at the office or suffering through a dreadful date, that Chanel lipstick seems like a just reward. One woman I worked with found herself at the MAC cosmetic counter during lunch every time her boss handed back a legal brief that was marked up with a myriad of critical comments.

Overspending can often be used as a mind-altering drug. You may find that there are certain feelings that prompt you to overspend. Common ones are loneliness, anxiety, sadness, boredom, resentment, jealousy, etc. However, don’t be surprised if you find that happiness, success, or accomplishments are triggers as well.

Lastly, you may identify that certain people are connected to overspending. There may be particular girlfriends who want to take a quick peek in the Anthropologie shop on your way to dinner, and you walk out with an unintended purchase. Another client somehow found herself on Banana Republic’s Web site every time she got off the phone with her mother-in-law.

Once you have analyzed all the data, make a list of your signature overspending triggers. Armed with this increased self-awareness, brainstorm solutions for your particular triggers. For example, if criticism from your boss is a trigger, find a trusted co-worker you can vent to, or a friend you can text to let her know the jerk did it again. If you struggle with boredom as a trigger, find more ways to engage yourself in your world such as taking up a hobby, registering for a class on something you’ve always wanted to learn, volunteering, etc. And, avoid traveling with your Anthropologie girlfriend to the restaurant. Plan to meet her there instead!

Financially Smitten Call to Action for you today:

It’s often easy to make purchases without thinking about the financial and emotional implications until after the money is spent. The key is to stay conscious before pulling out your wallet. Stopping Overshopping expert April Benson recommends asking yourself these six questions the next time you find yourself about to make a purchase:

1. Why am I here?
2. How do I feel?
3. Do I need this?
4. What if I wait?
5. How will I pay for it?
6. Where will I put it?

You can put these questions on a note and keep it in visible place—such as in your wallet or on your computer screen. Those neon colored ones are great for catching your eye! You can whip it out as you stand in the checkout line at Target, loaded down with items from the latest Zac Posen line.