Curbing that Spending Impulse

by Diane Conlinn, November 6, 2000

The spend, spend, spend impulse has come upon you. What to do? You just know you need a new blouse, suit, slacks, tie, etc. And you've thought up all these good reasons why you should have it. But, you have a war raging inside. You have money to pay this month's utility bill, or you can buy your new item. Well, you've been virtuous you paid everything up to date. And this bill can ride for 60 days before, before. Or that check you are expecting should be here today, I can just write a check and deposit the check this afternoon, and everything will be great!

Stop! Stop! Stop! Take a deep breath. I know it's difficult. But let's just take a moment here to think.

First of all, I understand you need these items. So, let's look at the new plan you've made. Do you have the money in the section of the spending plan you've made? Have you built up enough money this month? You haven't started. You meant to this month. I am going to suggest something unprecedented. Don't follow your pulse. I want you to go through your clothes and find your very best outfit that meets your requirements but isn't quite right. It just never fit quite right. It was a mistake. My suggestion here is to think of alternatives. Take the offending items to a tailor and have the garments altered. Many times, the item can be transformed into something wonderful. Or maybe just a good pressing at the dry cleaners will make a miraculous transformation. Perhaps, the problem here is not your clothes at all. Perhaps the problem lies somewhere else. Maybe it doesn't have anything to do with clothes at all. Maybe this impulse to spend comes from somewhere else entirely.

So, I'm going to suggest just the Think, Think, Think method. First, many times what we think is a desire to spend actually is another natural desire of our physical or mental self we have just ignored, because we were too busy, or whatever.

So, ask yourself. Are you hungry? You know maybe you are. Why don't you get a nice meal? Much cheaper than a new dress. Or better yet, fix a good meal at home.

Are you angry? Let me give you a personal story. Until recently I rarely was angry. Or at least I thought I wasn't ever angry. But the truth was, I had been bombarded with, it's bad to be angry. It's bad too want to lash out. Generally, I was angry because something I regarded as justifiably wrong had occurred either to my loved ones or to me. I had followed all the advice of just resolving to be happy, and didn't deal with my frustrations. One of the things that I've discovered is that I funneled my anger away. I funneled it so far that I didn't realize I was angry. So, now when I get a spending impulse, or eating impulse, I look inside to see if I'm angry. Because I have to find out what I've pushed aside. And instead of buying that outfit, I am going to actually allow myself to feel angry, and then, do something about why I am angry. I'm going to acknowledge it in some way by either telling the person I'm angry at or by writing about it.

Are you Lonely? It's holiday time, and you are alone. There are three solutions here. Shopping (?), finding someone to talk to, or thinking about why you feel lonely. Anyone of these solutions are dealing with the problem, while shopping just pushes it away, only for it to return.

Are you tired? Tired can be that you're working too hard, and need to take a break. Tired could be you just need some rest. Go get some rest, or do something to relax (not shopping). Take a nice bath, go for a walk, and shovel the sidewalk? Watch some TV. Read a worthless book.

Take a moratorium from spending, and look at the sources of your desire to spend. See if you can just today not do it. Wait until tomorrow. And when tomorrow comes, go through this process again. If after going through this for three days, you still think you must have this item. Examine your spending plan, and move something into that category. But..... insure that you have money for your essentials. You've paid your rent, utilities; your food money is not being used, your auto payment, and your insurance. Your payment to the IRS, and student loan has been completed. If so, then transfer money from other items in your spending plan to what you require, and make a plan to go out and buy it. Go to your bank; take the money out in cash. Leave your credit cards, checkbook, other ways of paying at home, and take the cash to the place you are going to buy the things you need.

Good luck to you. Pat yourself on the back for trying a new way of living. I know you can do it.