For many of us, spending money can be a rollercoaster of emotions. One day you feel great about your budget and then next thing you know a simple purchase sends you into financial duress.
Maybe you finally bought that new sweater you’ve had your eye on. Sure it was only $30, but buyer’s remorse makes you feel like you just maxed out your credit card. The inner dialogue will start telling you, “Maybe I should’ve bought something cheaper. I don’t really need this. I could’ve used this money for groceries. Should I return this?”
Many people find themselves experiencing shopper’s guilt, especially around the holiday season. We are spending extra money on gifts, dinner parties, and fun holiday activities. For some, splurging on Christmas gifts or a peppermint latte may be invigorating, while for others it causes some serious spending anxiety.
We know it can become exhausting to keep up with the emotional stress of overspending. That’s why we are sharing a few strategies that can help you to overcome your spending guilt all year round.
Anticipate Spending Seasons
There are certain times of the year when you know you will be spending more money than usual. Whether it’s the holidays, wedding season, or summer vacation, it’s important to plan for these occasions ahead of time. Be 100% honest with yourself about how much money you will likely be spending.
When you anticipate that you will be spending more money on gifts, dinners, and activities, you’re less likely to be frustrated, stressed, and guilty when you make your holiday purchases.
Budget, Budget, Budget
Something that cannot be stressed enough is budgeting your money. This is going to look different for everyone, but it’s important you find a strategy that works for your lifestyle. When you use your money with a plan in mind, you feel much more confident about your spending habits. Get really clear on how much you want, and can, spend each month and mold your budget around it.
A common budgeting tool is the 50/30/20 rule. Learn more about how you can customize this to fit your lifestyle here.
Stop Emotional Shopping
A lot of guilt can come from what we buy when we are emotional shopping. When we are sad, mad, or lonely we can easily talk ourselves into thinking that a new phone case or work outfit will make us feel better. However, during this time you are more likely to purchase things you don’t need, making you feel guilty after the fact. It’s a vicious cycle of feeling upset, buying something to make yourself feel better, and feeling worse for buying unnecessary things.
Break this habit by tracking your spending. When do you tend to buy things that make you feel guilty? Is it when you’re home alone, shopping at the store while hungry, or after a stressful day at work. Find what causes emotional shopping so that you can identify and stop it before you purchase.
Write Down Previous “Guilt” Purchases
Take 5 minutes and write down all of the things you have felt guilty for buying recently and why you felt remorse. Analyze the list and notice any recurring patterns. This will give you a window into the root of your guilt. For example, let’s say you wrote down mostly clothing items on your list. This could be because you think you have too many clothes as it is. Maybe it’s time to declutter your closet and donate clothes.
If you are feeling guilty for buying something, finding out the root cause can help you overcome this. It will allow you to identify the purchases that you are buying out of habit and to discontinue buying things that make you feel guilt or shame.
Wait 24 Hours To Purchase
Many times it is our impulse buys that make us feel the most guilty. It’s the things we didn’t plan on purchasing that throw off our budget and leave us overwhelmed. When you find something you like, have the store hold the item for you for 24 hours. If after that time frame you still want to make the purchase, then take the next steps.
A lot of times after the excitement wears off, we realize that we don’t need, or even want, the item that we were planning to buy. Taking a step back and waiting can be the best solution for those who feel that post-purchase guilt.
Shopper’s guilt can be the result of emotional shopping or lack of budgeting. Whatever it may be, you can stop it with these helpful tips. For more budget tips like this, sign up for the Rize & Shine Newsletter where we share tangible financial advice for you and your partner!