September 29, 2006, Newsletter Issue #34: Understanding Spending Triggers

Tip of the Week

Everyone has his or her own unique spending triggers. Spending triggers are those hot buttons that, when pushed, lead us to spend our hard-earned money on things we don't really need. For example, a busy work-at-home mom's spending trigger may be stress. She's busting her butt to make deadline. She feels guilty that she isn't spending enough time with her kids. It's five o'clock, and she hasn't started dinner yet. She feels like she deserves a break. Eureka, she thinks! I'll order out! Fifty dollars of Chinese food later, she now has to work another hour to pay for the convenience. This busy mom's spending triggers are stress, guilt, entitlement.

Men are not immune from overspending either. Consider the career-climbing young father. He's driving a perfectly acceptable Honda Accord. Honda's are known for great gas mileage and low cost of ownership. But the parking lot at work is full of Volvos and Acuras. He's embarrassed to be seen driving his trusty ol' Honda, so he trades it in for a flashy BMW, spending money his young family can ill afford. His spending triggers are his desire to overcome feelings of inadequacy and his need to demonstrate his own importance.

Are we at the mercy of our spending triggers? Not entirely. Start paying attention to how you feel when you are considering spending money. Feeling sorry for yourself? Feeling overwhelmed? Once you identify your spending triggers, try to avoid situations that provoke those feelings. For example, during her slow periods, that stressed out work-at-home mom could cook ahead and have some easy meals ready and waiting in the freezer for her nuttier work periods. She'd save money, have more free time to spend with her family, and feel good about feeding her kids homemade, nutritious meals.

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