In the last blog post, my friend Emily talked about how the stress of her family move caused her to use shopping as one of her coping mechanisms. This is totally normal.
I realized that many people who have issues with spending too much aren’t learning alternative skills that are more healthy than coping mechanisms. Especially when it’s so easy to click a button and have something delivered (sorry Amazon).
How to combat coping mechanisms
If you’re a regular to my blog, you know that I go on a Spending Diet a couple of times per year. This just makes me aware of what coping mechanisms might be causing me to overspend and helps me “reset” my brain.
Why do I do these things?
Sort of like I am motivated to eat more healthy and exercise when I step on the scales regularly. My coping mechanisms only kick in when I forget what my bigger goals are.
I realized that part of my ongoing modus operandi was exactly what helped my friend Emily with her coping mechanisms – putting space between thought and action. Which means:
1 – When browsing for something online, leave it in your online shopping cart for a day before you make the purchase. I never buy anything the day I put it in my cart.
2 – If you’re tempted in the store by something that is not a need, put it back while you shop for the items you came for. My mom’s mantra was “If it’s not on my list, I don’t buy it!”
3 – Don’t take credit cards into tempting stores. For example, I never take my credit card into West Elm because I have learned that I always want a minimum of $500 worth of stuff.
4 – I also leave myself a relatively small “pad” in my checking account, and move the excess to an online, high yield savings account (like this one or this one) so that if I want to spend the money, it takes 1-3 days to make it back to my checking account.
5 – I have a friend who only keeps one credit card in her wallet and puts a stick note on it, so every time she pulls it out, she has to remove the sticky note. It says Financial Freedom.
Coping mechanisms don’t have to be about shopping per se… coping mechanisms might also be going out to eat too often, because the thought of proactive meal planning is just too much. You might need to learn to let go of perfectionism (and here’s my example of that with bacon).
Bottom line, if you THINK you might be using coping mechanisms that hurt your results with money, there are ways to move toward healthier alternatives. If you think you’d like to recommit to financial clarity, you might like my free workbook, Conscious Spending in 30 Minutes or Less – you can download that here.