Spending money on fun, but ultimately unnecessary, things is now a luxury for many
However, changing your spending habits is not as easy as it sounds.
Buying things is a personally and neurologically gratifying activity.
You don't need to have a shopping addiction to experience the excitement and power of an unnecessary purchase.
A new clothing item or trinket can provide joy and a much needed dopamine hit.
Spending money actually activates many of the same pleasure areas of our brain as substances like alcohol and cocaine.
Because of this, spending is a powerful behavior we can begin to crave.
There are many reasons why spending money can be a valuable behavior that is hard to tame.
Because spending money can be so pleasurable, it is often used as a coping mechanism to face certain emotional triggers.
Whether it’s boredom, sadness, or stress, your emotional cues can lead you to shop and spend money.
Part of its power is in the instant gratification of a purchase.
Buying something when you’re stressed can instantly improve your mood without having to actually process the stress.
Purchases can also be evidence of change. Buying new workout gear can represent progress towards a goal of exercising more often, even if it is not used or necessary.
Commonly, buying something for yourself can be a way to assert control during times in life when you may not have much.
In all of these cases, spending helps us cope- but there are other, more budget-friendly alternatives out there!
First, find the reasons behind your spending.
What are the places or situations where you make unnecessary purchases the most?
Are there any feelings that are common when you shop?
What do you feel after you buy something?
Next, explore alternative ways to get the benefits.
If you desire the dopamine hit of purchasing something, try doing a brief physical activity like dancing or jogging.
If you want to see physical evidence of change, try an activity that changes your environment or creates something new like tidying or an art project.
If you need a way to relieve big emotions like anxiety, try a grounding exercise like deep breathing.
If you need control, change something in your environment, do something different from your usual routine, or learn something new.
It is so much harder to eliminate a behavior if you don’t have an alternative to meet those lingering needs.
The same applies to spending money.
If you don't understand why it’s so enjoyable or find other ways to get that same feeling, you’ll keep falling into the trap of unnecessary spending.