Episode No. 72

How To Conquer Impulse Spending

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Table of Contents

Today I have a little something special, I’m actually re airing a very popular in fact, one of my most popular episodes, it’s from Episode Number two, how to handle impulse spending. In this episode, we’re going to be talking about how to find the patterns in your impulse spending and get down to the real issue behind your impulse spending. Whether you’ve heard this episode before or not, I think you’re going to love it. Let’s dive in. It’s okay to spend money. However, somehow. And sometimes we fall into these harmful habits of spending money instead of helpful habits of spending money and impulse spending is a harmful habit, especially if it means that we’re not reaching our money goals, especially if it derails us from our money goals. So before we dive into how to actually handle impulse spending, and how to get to the root issue of it and deal with it for good, right, we have to talk about what is it?

What is impulse spending?

Well, impulse spending is just spending money that was unplanned to when you spend money without thinking so that you can fulfill any emotional need, that has been unmet. I’m going to repeat that:

It is spending money unplanned so that you can fulfill usually an emotional need that has been on met.

And I think sometimes we are blind to the fact that there is an emotional need that has been unmet. And we don’t even realize it.

So, for example, you might be spending money because you’re mad, sad, glad, bored, stressed, anxious, happy, or even having some FOMO feelings, like you don’t want to miss out maybe some jealousy. If you have ever spent money or if you have ever noticed a pattern of spending money impulsively, unplanned, because of these emotions, and you’re in the right place, we’re going to be talking about it.

How do we conquer impulse spending?

If you’re 35 years old, you might have been impulse spending for the last 20 years or the last 15 years, you might be in these habits in these patterns of impulse spending. And it might just be something that you do without even thinking about it, you might feel like you have no control? Well, here’s the good news.

The good news is you CAN have control over your spending. The bad news is that you are going to be rewiring all of these past experiences and all of these past habits. And that will take time, we can’t just snap our fingers and say I’m not going to impulse spend anymore. Because then what usually happens is we deprive ourselves completely of everything. And we end up binging and spending even more.

Step 1: Identify Patterns

So the first thing that we need to do when it comes to conquering impulse spending is to find the patterns, every person is going to be different on this. And so this is where you actually have to sit down and think through the patterns of your spending. Where is it that you find yourself wanting to spend money unplanned, take some time and actually go back and think about maybe the you know, wait, even if you go through your check checking account, and you look open up your bank app and you look at the past two months worth of transactions and figure out where did you spend money on plans and think about what was happening in those moments. I know that for me personally, my first time of realizing that I truly struggled with impulse spending and let me be the first one to say I did not deal with it at this time. But the first time that I realized it was when I was in college.

When I was in college I used spending money as a reward for for good grades and for celebrations. I would go to the mall, that was my place, my place of choice was the mall. And I would go to the mall and I would spend maybe 25, to $50, to reward myself for good grades for getting, you know if it was an award, for just maybe something exciting coming up.

However, on the flip side, I also went to the mall, and I would spend money when something sad would happen.

If I bombed a test, I would lift my spirits by going to the mall and spending money. If my boyfriend broke up with me, I would lift my spirits by going to the mall and then maybe getting a pedicure.

So for me, my pattern was whenever I had strong emotions, strong emotions led to impulse spending, for me. Your patterns might be stress and anxiety, that’s a strong emotion. It also might just be apathy or boredom. When you’re bored, you feel like, oh, my gosh, my life feels very boring in this moment, what can I do to make it exciting, and sometimes we tend to spend money.

So I want you to spend time to actually figure out the patterns. And even if this means grabbing a paper and pencil and just journaling and writing out where are the patterns in my spending, so that we can move forward. Because if you don’t know the patterns, if you can’t see what’s happening, and what’s causing you to impulse spend, or maybe what that trigger is, then we can’t really deal with it.

And just unsubscribing from store emails or waiting three days. Those are very surface level ways of dealing with impulse spending. And we want to really deal with the real problem at hand. So that way, you can fix the problem and not have to deal with impulse spending for years to come.

Step 2: Get Down to the Root Issue

Once we deal with the patterns. And we’re able to identify the patterns with our impulse spinning, we know when we’re impulse spinning, it’s time to deal with why we are impulse spending, or get down to the root issue.

The only way to truly stop impulse spending is to get down to that root and issue and chances are you’re spending money unplanned because of something deeper. A lot of times it goes back to maybe years past where we created these habits. And now it’s just this thing that we do. It’s what we rely on to bring us joy to make us happy to lift our spirits.

What are you feeling when you are impulse spending, what is the emotion you are trying to receive?

A lot of times we are spending money based off of emotions, we just talked about how whenever I was in college, I would impulse spend, whenever I got a bad grade, I would make myself I would seek out happiness and make myself happy. Because in that moment, I was disappointed in myself and my college grade. And so therefore I would try to immediately replace that emotion with with spending money which brought me this rush of adrenaline, this like dopamine hit.

But why am I struggling with that?

It was because I wasn’t willing to sit in the uncomfortable feeling of having that bad grade. Because in that moment, I felt like a failure. And I didn’t want to sit in the feeling of feeling like a failure. Like I’m just going to own it. I’m going to own that. That’s why it was and why is it because I was giving my identity to my college grades instead of finding my identity. And just who I am knowing that those college grades weren’t a direct reflection on if I’m a failure, or if I’m successful, and that I can be successful, even if I get an F on a test one time in college.

But instead of being able to own that and think through that and realize that I’m still a wonderful person and not have my identity routed in those grades. I couldn’t deal with that at the time. I don’t think I was mature enough to realize it. Because I was unhappy and dealing with that. And I couldn’t make myself happy. I couldn’t work through my own feelings. I turned around and spent money.

Why is it that you’re struggling with impulse spending?

Do you struggle with impulse spending because you struggle to show yourself love? Are you not loving yourself? So therefore you’re turning to other things to show yourself love, like spending money, or eating? Do you spend money impulsively because you feel a lack of purpose? I mean, I think that that’s very common to feel like well, I don’t feel like I have purpose in this world. And that’s a depressing thought. And so we spend money How do you and then ask yourself, are you just struggling with contentment, contentment in your current life, loving your current life even when it might not be this Picture Perfect Instagram worthy life which by the way, no one’s is what it comes down to is there is a reason why you were shocked
Dealing with impulse spending. And it’s likely bigger than simply buying what you want in the moment. One of the hardest things with impulse spending is that you’re going to have to get down to that root issue. Once you have the root issue, you need to do the work there. You need to do the work to find happiness and peace and deal with those problems that maybe you have been avoiding and using money to avoid those problems. And when you can deal with those problems, then you’re no longer going to be tempted to treat those problems with money.

So think of it as my son had a broken arm. And I tried to treat that broken arm with a bandaid or just giving him Tylenol instead of taking him to the doctor to get it fixed and put it in a cast and, and take the necessary precautions, right the necessary steps. If I continue to just put a bandaid on it and give him Tylenol, it’s not going to get better, it’s going to continue to hurt.

Are you willing to do the work to think about what is the root issue of why you are tempted to spend money or overspend or turn to money when you are mad, when you’re glad, when you’re sad, when you’re stressed, when you’re anxious, when you’re bored, when you’re jealous?

Are you willing to deal with that issue, so that for the remainder of your life, whenever those feelings do come up, you can truly deal with them in the moment, instead of just putting a bandaid on them and spending money to get this emotional, this immediate, emotional response of happiness that honestly does not last and can lead to death.

Step 3: Question Your Thoughts


My third tip for dealing with impulse spending once you have identified your patterns, once you’ve dealt with your “Why” is to question your thoughts. And I first learned about this truly from Byron Katie, she has an amazing book, you’ve got to listen to her story is incredible. But what I learned through reading her book and going through therapy is that our thoughts can lie to us. I literally used to believe that if it entered my brain, it meant it was true. And I look back now and I’m like what that is nonsense. Our thoughts can lie to us. And a lot of times we believe our thoughts because we believe they are true if they’re in our mind.

And sometimes these thoughts these lies can lead to impulse spending and going into further debt.

But the bad news is they’re going to lie to you your thoughts, the ideas floating around in your head can lie to you. However, the good news is that you are in control of your thinking you can actually control the thoughts that enter your mind. It’s not always easy. And if you’ve been thinking these thoughts of believing these thoughts into your mind for years on end about yourself, then it’s going to take time patience and practice to control those thoughts and realize what is true and what is a lie.

So I just want to give you some examples. I’ve had, I’ve worked with a lot of women that have told me that because they have debt. They believe these things about themselves. They believe that they are dumb. They believe that this makes them a bad mom or a bad wife. They believe that they are failing their children. Because in the past, they racked up student loan debt because they didn’t know any better because no one was willing to teach them. I’ve had women reach out to me and say that they believe that it means that they won’t ever be able to find a partner because who would want to date someone or be in a relationship with someone who has this debt?

These thoughts that enter their mind they are believing them thinking they are true, when in fact they are just lies entering their mind. But when you believe it, it changed the way you handle your money. You handle your finances.

How do we take back control of these thoughts? How do we control them? Well, Byron Katie has a list of questions to ask yourself and I’m just going to give you a couple of them.

  1. When a thought enters your mind, you have to ask yourself, Is it true?

So for instance, if the thought is you are terrible with money, you’re terrible at managing money,
you’re in debt, you struggle with impulse spending, you can’t seem to control it, you are terrible with money, right? If that is your thought you are terrible with money, ask yourself, Is it true? Is it 100%? True?

Well, no, that’s not true. That’s just your feelings. That thought is a feeling. That doesn’t mean you’re terrible with money.

2. How do I treat myself or what emotions arise?

When I believe that thought, well, I don’t know about you, but I will just feel really bad. How do you treat yourself, I will be beating myself up, I will be sitting in this pool of shame and guilt, I will be believing that I will never amount to anything financially, I will never be able to reach my money goals, because I am terrible with money.

3. Who would you be without the thought? Who what type of person would you believe if that thought never entered your mind?

Well, I think I would feel more confident, I think I would feel like like I have this path that I could follow to reach to financial success, even though I have debt or even though I struggle with impulse spending, right?

So we have to ask ourselves, what I thought enters your mind, is it true? How do I treat myself when those emotions arise? And who would I be without that thought.

And when I work with women who tell me that they’re battling these thoughts every single day, multiple times, 20, 30, 40, 50 times that come into their head, where they’re talking to themselves about money, what I tell them to do, is to recognize that thought, and tell themselves this thought does not serve me it does not belong here.

So when you’re scrolling Instagram, and you see someone on vacation, and you don’t have the money to go on vacation, but you’re sitting here thinking, oh my gosh, their life is so much better than mine, because they’re on vacation. You tell yourself this thought does not serve me it does not belong here.

Because when we’re able to question our thoughts, when we’re able to really know that our thoughts lie to us, and that we can choose what we think about, then we can conquer and deal with those root issues. We can deal with those root issues and in turn, conquer impulse spending.

And here’s the deal, though, when you question those thoughts, and you choose not to spend money to deal with those thoughts? So you have a negative thought maybe you usually go to spending money as a way to get this, this quick jolt of happiness. When you question that thought, and you choose not to use money as the BandAid, it means you’re going to have to sit in that thought, you’re going to have to sit in those uncomfortable feelings for a period of time.

I’ve heard people say, Oh, no, just just let the thought go. And it and it won’t harm you and just completely ignore it. And that’s sometimes not always the case, that sometimes feels impossible.

And it’s okay to sit in that uncomfortable feeling and feel your feelings when you’re dealing with impulse spending.

When you are spending money, because you are sad about something you are sad about something that’s going on in your life, you’re sad about a friendship, that you had an argument with a with a spouse or a friend or someone in your relationship, when you have those feelings of sadness, it’s okay to sit in those feelings and feel those feelings.

It’s when we try to mask those feelings and put a bandaid on them by spending money, that we end up with these habits that are harming us and not helping us.

So what we have to do is replace these harmful habits of going to spending money or eating or whatever it is that you’re trying to no longer sit in that uncomfortable space, we need to replace those harmful habits with healthful habits. And the healthful habits looks like identifying, owning the feelings you’re having owning the thoughts, owning the struggles, and then questioning your thoughts questioning your thoughts. Is it true? How do I treat myself? Or what emotions arise? When I believe that thought and who would I be without the thought?

Because so often, what I have found just with my own personal experience and working with hundreds of other women is that it’s easy to spend money when you’re not owning your feelings. So I want to encourage you to replace those harmful habits with helpful ones instead.

What to do if you already spent money impulsively

Okay, so sometimes you’re going to impulse spend. There’s going to come a time when you just can’t find it and you do impulse spend and you might be thinking, Am I a failure? What does this mean? No. We’re all human. There is going to be times whenever you spend money unplanned when you spend money impulsively when you spend money because of your emotions. I do it, you’re going to do it.

It does not make you a failure, it means you are human.

However, there are some things that you can do afterwards or some questions you can ask yourself to help you kind of break down exactly what happened and figure out what you’re going to do next.

Step 1: Identify Your Feelings Prior to the Purchase

So what I like to do is think about okay, well, what did I buy? What was the item I bought? What was I feeling right before I bought that item?

So let’s say that I ended up buying a spent impulsively, not in my budget not planned, maybe something from target that would make my home pretty.

Okay, well, what was I feeling before I bought the item? Well, I was feeling like my home was at pretty, because I was scrolling on Instagram, and I saw someone’s beautiful house. And it just looked perfect. And I realized that my house just doesn’t have look as pretty as I want it to be. So therefore I turn around and I bought this home decor piece from Target.

Step 2: Did I Attempt to Combat the Desire to Spend Impulsively?

After I identify my feelings which led to spending money on an item impulsively, I then like to ask myself whether or not I tried to resist the impulse purchase.

Did you sit down and question, well, this person’s life is a highlight reel, my house is beautiful. Here are all the things I love about my house. Did I implement some actions or thought patterns beforehand to try to combat that desire?

Step 3: Keep it or Return it

And then I like to ask myself whenever I do an impulse spend is, am I going to keep it or return it or adjust my budget when I spend money unplanned?

I feel like I have three options, keep it and deal with the consequences, return it and get my money back or adjust my budget.

Keep it and deal with the consequences might look like pulling money out of savings to cover it, finding ways to make more money to cover the cost of it, returning it getting my money back or adjusting my budget, allowing my budget to be this flexible document this flexible plan that can cover those types of things.

There are going to be times when you still struggle, impulse spinning does not mean you’re a failure does not mean you’re a bad person does not mean you’re terrible at managing your money, it does mean that you are human.

If you’re interested, if you’re sitting here thinking I want to dive in deeper, I want to dive in deeper to impulse spending and figuring out how I can truly conquer this, maybe get some journal prompts, get some guidance along the way. Then I want to introduce you to my stop the swipe course, it’s all about how to conquer impulse spending, how to stop that consistent swipe of your debit card or your credit card and get down to the root issue, you can get it by going to inspire budget.com/shop. Or you can click the link below.

It’s perfect for people who are willing to do the internal work to see results that will last them for years to come. Not just unsubscribing from emails and waiting three days they want to see lasting change. And those habits they want to replace those harmful habits with helpful habits.

My hope is that you walked away from today’s episode with a plan with more knowledge about why if you struggle with impulse spending, or if you know someone who does, why you might be struggling with that and what you can actually do to help conquer impulse spending for good. If you enjoyed this episode, it would mean the world to me if you actually shared it on social media. Just take a screenshot right now of your phone, share it on Instagram stories and tag me. I’ll be back next week with a brand new episode. I’ll see you then.

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Meet Allison

Allison Baggerly is a blogger, author, influencer, speaker, podcaster, and founder of Inspired Budget, which is proudly a Latinx and women-owned business. A former teacher, Allison blends her talents for teaching with her passion for personal finances to help others learn how to start budgeting and build a life they love.

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