Who hasn’t indulged in a little retail therapy from time to time, especially after a shocking day at work, or an argument with your partner? It often seems like a good time to buy a pair of new shoes perhaps, go to a movie or buy an album, a bottle of wine, a therapeutic massage to de-stress or even sign up to a gym membership.
So it can feel a little impulsive to spend money we haven’t budgeted on, so what? On the surface it seems like we are taking care of ourselves: doing something to comfort ourselves to deal with the anger or frustration of having our feelings trampled, or not living up to our own or someone else’s expectations.
According to a poll of 1003 consumers by US website creditcards.com, five out of six American admit to impulse buying. One in five people had spent more than US$1000 on impulse, which rose to one in three for people earning over US$75,000.
Spending money impulsively can make you ‘feel better’ and ‘more alive’. It can certainly seem exciting, and it’s hardly as reckless as taking drugs or gambling, right?
But it can be a serious problem if this is something we begin to regularly, or with expensive items, as a way of coping. And let’s face it, jobs and relationships – and life in general – can be stressful for extended periods.
Fortunately there are plenty of strategies to manage your impulse buying urges –according to BetaBait.com (a website helping start-ups connect with early adopters) you are much less likely to buy on impulse if you plan your shopping trip or walk to the shops rather than drive. It found that sales are a trigger for impulse spenders (a staggering 88 per cent of impulse buys are items “on sale” – even if you didn’t need that item). It also said impulse spending often happens when you feel “angry, stressed, guilty or bored”.
Let’s consider that last point: when you feel “angry, stressed, guilty of bored”. Anyone would admit the issues making us angry, stressed, guilty and bored – or sad, or ashamed, or lonely – are not solved by a bottle (or a case) of wine, or upgrading computer or bike or car, or booking a holiday or seeing a movie. Chances are we are just escaping feelings which will overwhelm us again in a few hours or days.
Working through complex and difficult problems is of course not easy. But we also forget what a hugely painful thing financial stress is. Ask yourself honestly, is your impulse buying adding to your financial stress?
Financial worries are now accepted as a leading cause of stress in people’s lives throughout the western world.
An Australian start-up company, Financial Mindfulness, is set to launch a world-first comprehensive personal tool harnessing the proven benefits of mindfulness to address the way we spend and invest money. Mindfulness is not, as some people believe an attitude, but is better described as the regular practice of moment-by-moment awareness.
“Member financial wellness, engagement and measurable behaviour change is what we are aiming for. Members learn through awareness and education to build sustainable healthy habits.” says Financial Mindfulness Founder & CEO, Andrew Fleming.
Watch this space for more details on when Financial Mindfulness will be available to help you.