The more stressed you are, the more likely you will buy…

Do you ever look around your home and feel guilty about the products that you buy that you never really use? Or wonder why you bought them in the first place? Impulse spending is a problem for many people. It’s something that’s very difficult to control and most of us succumb to it every now and again. However, impulse spending can be an issue if it gets out of control – so what causes this kind of purchasing to go too far?

Stress and anxiety have a big part to play

According to experimental psychologist Ian Zimmerman, if you’re an impulse buyer then you probably already have issues when it comes to controlling your emotions. And this can make it much more difficult to avoid responding to any impulse buying urges. Many of us buy on impulse for all the wrong reasons, for example:

  • Having a bad day and hoping it will make you feel better
  • To distract yourself from something stressful
  • When you believe that the purchase will solve a problem that is making you anxious
  • Because the “high” of making a purchase often blocks out more negative feelings like anxiety

On the whole, shopping will rarely achieve any of the above. We often get a temporary mood boost from spending but this can be followed by a serious dip in happiness levels, particularly if you can’t really afford what you purchased. At this point it’s very easy to slip into a negative cycle with impulse buying. You might make the initial purchase to feel better, then become anxious about that purchase and end up buying something else – and so on, and so on. And that’s a sure route to unmanageable debt that can leave you relying on bad credit loans or no credit check loans.

How to curb impulse spending

If stress and anxiety are driving your desire to spend then the starting point to a solution is often looking at what is causing those negative emotions in the first place.

  1. Talk to someone. It can be difficult to identify a source of stress or anxiety on your own. Or you may know where it’s coming from but feel powerless to do anything about it. Before you look at the consequences of that stress (i.e. the impulse spending) try talking to someone you trust about the causes of it.
  1. Give yourself a new set of rules. Impulse spending requires a number of conditions to be in place before it can happen. For example, you need to be close to a store or shopping online and you need to have easy access to your cards. Take away one or more of these component parts and you lessen the opportunity to spend. So, introduce some new “life rules” – for example, leave your cards at home when you go shopping and don’t go online during the sales.
  1. Find other ways to make yourself feel better. If you’re feeling stressed or anxious there are many other ways to relieve that feeling than spending money. Exercise is a fast track to endorphins, even just a brisk 20 minute walk. Spending time with family or friends may also help to get you on the right track. There are also lots of tools to help you cope better with stress, from mindfulness meditation to stress-busting podcasts.