Saturday, September 6, 2014

Spending Urges: How to Deal

I get these weird urges to spend money sometimes. Like, if I go too long without buying anything, I feel the need to buy a thing, anything, just to prove I can. Often it can just be a small purchase to make the urge subside, but it can also lead to larger splurges. There's also the 'deprivation' or 'being a bore' feeling that can come if I go a while without going out to spend money. It's very strange. When I think about it rationally, I know that I don't actually enjoy going out to Forever 21 to buy clothes more than I enjoy sitting at home on a weeknight. I do also know that it's pretty easy to redirect friends away from hanging out at a cafe (where we each spend $15) to hanging out at a dorm (where we spend maybe $20 total on pizza). So it's not actually an enjoyment or companionship deprivation. But I get a weird restless feeling that really does relate to purchasing. I wonder if this is like the urge to jump people get when standing on the edge of a precipice? Or to scratch a mosquito bite even though you know it'll itch more? Just the general desire to do something unwise just because you can.

Whatever the cause, I've been trying a few things to make that feeling subside.

1) Making 'purchases' in cellphone games.

Even friends poke fun at me for my love of cellphone games. I have a total weakness for them. I especially love cafe style games. Basically any game where you earn money by waiting on production and then use the profits to decorate. I've played cafe games, farm games, dress up games. There are tons of free cellphones games like this. Making a small purchase with fake money feels the same as spending actual US dollars. I really enjoy leveling up, gaining approval for decorating, and the satisfaction of completing a set. The only negative is that a lot of these free games have in app purchases. So while I enjoy completing a set, often the last piece will be a pay-access only item.

2) Opening a 'new' product

I often purchase and then hoard beauty products. Instead of going out to the store to get my new product fix, I go to my hoard and try out a new one. So I don't actually have to buy anything to open up, say, a new bottle of conditioner. Related to this, I usually time my orders to get free samples with my large purchases at So I have a system where I don't have to go out of my way to try something new (breaking the boring routine) and get the feeling of tearing brand new plastic open. It often works out that I don't prefer the new sample and return happily to my usual routine.

3) Checking out a from an already owned library

Some of my shopping urges are 'I want it now!' urges. I bought several seasons of Lost Girl because it was right there on amazon prime and I wanted to watch it right then. I've picked up so so so many books because they were there and I wanted them. We have access to so many libraries. There are public and university libraries to go to for the yearning for a new book. There are the libraries of hulu and youtube for entertainment. There are also libraries we actively buy into like a subscription to amazon prime or crunchyroll. Often just trying out a new series will distract me from buying the price locked season. "For just $15 I can watch 20 episodes! For just $15 I can find out what's going to happen next!" But I can also probably wait for it to be free on amazon prime. After all, there are so many other shows I can watch in the mean time! Or I can watch the most recent episodes on hulu or the site's page.

4) Volunteer

Is there some secret I'm missing? Are experiences not valuable if you didn't spend money in order to have them? My unconscious (and some friends) certainly seems to think so. If the spending urge is for a yearning for an experience or guilt over the boring routine, then I'll sign up to do some volunteering. The good thing is that it gets me up and out, doing something that really feels good because I'm giving value to someone rather than spending my own. As an introvert, a little socializing goes a long way.

If I do crack, here's how I minimize tha damge:

Gift Cards - If you get gift cards as gifts, then going out to spend a gift card can satisfy the spending feeling without actually spending any money. Alternatively, you can buy yourself gift cards while budgeting to cap how much you can spend when you finally get an urge.

Couponing - Diverts energy and can sometimes wear me out before I actually make the purchase, lowers the cost if I end up still buying.

Wait 24 hours to purchase - Another preventative, I have lots of things on my amazon wishlist from these urges, but I do sometimes go ahead with the purchase.