If you've ever been on a serious weight loss regimen you're familiar with "eating triggers." These are those feelings that nudge you toward the kitchen where you'll down the first thing you can get your hands on. For many of us these feelings are sadness, loneliness, insecurity, and even happiness. Just like overeating, overspending can also be caused my emotional triggers, which I think are worth examining.
Just this week I felt the urge to shop. My desk chair inexplicably stopped working last Monday and got stuck in the lowest setting, leaving me to feel like a third grader working at my too tall desk. Our bed frame seems to have also broken, or at least moved a bit, as the box springs keep falling through to the plastic boxes we store under the bed. My husband and I then play a really frustrating game of trying to move the box springs half an inch in either direction until we give up in a state of exhaustion knowing we're sleeping on the plastic boxes and simultaneously ruining them and the bed.
Finally, our house feels dirty and we've been behind on our grocery shopping all week. Since we were out of town last weekend, we missed our usual Saturday shopping trip, and we're out of rhythm with our leftovers. This means that every day we've been short at least one thing we need, but not quite out of something else. So we've been going to the store everyday, and even ate out for lunch one day when we realized too late that we had nothing edible on hand. On top of that, we missed our weekend cleaning and everything just feels dirty. I can't wait to have time to get the mop out and the vacuum cleaner.
And obviously I've turned to shopping as a sort of therapy.
I've haven't actually purchased anything (thank goodness) but I have started to peruse online catalogs filled with new bedroom furniture with gorgeous tufted headboards. I've also started dreaming about new bedding, and a sleek new office desk and chair. I also began looking at new clothes to buy, and thought about indulging in some pricey services like a spa treatment and night on the town.
But as I felt these urges I tried to sort them out and dig deep to address the underlying feelings. I think at the core I hate it when my life feels like a ball of chaos. When things I need are broken, I don't have food staples on hand, and my home feels grungy, I start to feel bad for myself. I feel deprived, not taken care of, and as though I'm treating myself like I'm not "worth" a nice life.
And thus I start dreaming of changing how I feel by changing my surroundings. I want to have nice things, some new furniture perhaps, so that I start to feel like I'm more valuable as a human being. But of course I don't think of it this way. I think that I "deserve" a new bed, and a new chair, and poor poor me shouldn't have to actually try to fix the items I already own.
And then my husband and I spend a few hours fixing my chair and the bed, laundering our clothes and bedding, and cleaning the floors and suddenly I feel like a brand new person. I stop dreaming about what I want to purchase, and instead feel extremely content in my little life that is just enough.
So next time when the shopping urge hits, I'm just going to suck it up and spend a few moments bringing my chaotic life into order. It turns out that's all I'm really looking for, and you can save yourself some time and money if you can identify what some of your spending triggers are, and learn how to sort through them instead of throwing money at the problem.