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Don’t Get Choked by a Chain of Spending

Sometimes I find that once I make a purchase, or even a few small ones, my wallet seems to open up much more easily. I buy something, get that instant gratification and joy from my shiny new purchase, and then I get the itch to buy more things and get that feeling again. It seems obvious after the fact, but it can be a subconscious effect that is hard to control.  It’s like a chain of spending.  It can wrap you up and choke you if you keep adding links.

For example:
My home is full of hand-me-down furniture.  Not because I like it, or even chose it.  It’s just the stuff that was available from my family, friends, or otherwise free and easy.  I’ve been slowly making some updates over the years.  For a while my TV has been sitting atop a hightop table.  Like something you’d see in a barroom or maybe someone’s kitchen.  It was too tall, not very stable, and didn’t look very nice.  I finally decided to make the move to an actual TV stand.  I know… so grown up.  If you know anything about me, it’s that I love to shop for used stuff.  So, I hit the pages of craigslist in search of used gold.  I actually found a nice piece of furniture. The price was right so I bought it, brought it home, and set the TV on it.  Done… right?

Well, I was so happy with that find that I started thinking up other upgrades that would be nice. Maybe a new coffee table, a new sofa, some bedside tables could be good.  And it begins.  I gotta get more stuff! I gotta get that satisfaction!  And so the chain grows… choking your wallet like an MMA fighter on pay-per-view night.

image from www.ameri-jitsu.com

Spending sometimes breeds more spending. Luckily, I recognized what was happening and reined it in before I went on a shopping spree.  At least I was looking for bargains, though. Splurging hurts less when you’re a bargain shopper.

The only way to avoid this chain is to recognize it.  If you feel yourself thinking about several big purchases, stop and think about what you actually need.  Are you spending out of necessity, or just splurging because it feels good?  Maybe you DO need a new couch or table.  If so, go for it.  Just think about your reasons for spending. Is your current couch comfortable, clean, and sturdy?  Maybe it’s just ugly and you want a new one.  That’s fine too.  We all have our own standards for what’s sufficient and I’m not going to try to change yours.

My point is just be aware of why you’re spending, and think about whether you’d rather have that money to put towards something else like debt, an emergency fund, or a more important purchase.

Have you ever caught yourself binging on new purchases?  How do you stop the chain from growing?

ABOUT AUTHOR / Andi

Andi is a Marketing Assistant at ACCC. He is passionate about supporting financial literacy efforts and helping to educate people on the Talking Cents blog!

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