Answer me this…why in the heck does it feel sooo good to buy stuff?!? You KNOW what’s good for you and you KNOW what’s right, but you also know what you’re REALLY going to do lol. WANT IT = GET IT!
Everybody, even the most frugal of penny pinchers has their weak spot…the temptation that they just can’t ignore lol. Shoes, handbags, food, gizmos and gadgets, one more book, can’t pass up that shirt, gotta buy it cause I gotta a bomb coupon…its literally endless.
The truth is, we’ve been trained to want ALL.THE.THINGS, and even when we get what we want, we want some mo’! I remember as a kid I wasn’t always aware of the actual dates on the calendar, but I always knew when Christmas was coming up because EVERY other commercial was a toy ad.
And here’s the thing, spending money on the things we want is totally an experience. It’s like when you’re craving a huge slice of cake from your favorite spot. First you think, “man that sounds good today, I wanna get one.”
Then you start day dreaming about picking it out, what the shop smells like when you walk in, the torturous indecision of choosing between your two faves! Then when the craving is outta control you gotta scratch the itch, so you jump in the car. The anticipation is off the scales…can’t wait to get it! You can almost taste it.
OH.MY.GOD…when you actually get it and put in your mouth its like Heaven on Earth lol.
Or think about all the planning you do for a vacation, all of the anticipation and day dreaming that goes into it is cray. From reading thousands of reviews on exotic locations, to looking up all the amenities at the hottest hotels, to what things you want to do when you get there, and the sweet feeling of not having to clock in for a week or two…no worries at all.
Man it’s intense.
And guess what, I don’t know about you but I don’t feel the sliiiiightest bit of guilt when I put that trip right on my maxed out Visa…not even a little bit…well at least not until I get the bill.
And if you’re anything like me, you are the world’s biggest impulse shopper when you absolutely “NEED” something…Target anyone?!? There’s this immediate sense of satisfaction and fulfillment. We know it’s sabotaging our efforts but we just CAN’T.SEEM.TO.STOP. And because we know we can afford it, we almost don’t want to stop.
The thing is, its feel GOOOOODDD to buy stuff, half the time it’s not even about the thing itself, just the act of spending the money. Its no wonder we turn to shopping at the drop of a dime! If feels great and our culture says it’s not only OK, but encouraged!
Well trust me when I say you ain’t alone! And don’t go beating yourself up, contrary to popular belief, this literally has zero to do with “discipline” and “will power”.
So how in the heck do you get off this merry-go-round?!?
Here’s the deal, there’s some crap we gotta be aware before any of this gets better.
First, you need to know WHY you’re out spending when you KNOW its not always the best thing for ya’! If you’re not willing to dig deeper than “because it feels good”, then keep it pushin’, because nothing else I have to say is going to provide any real benefit to you.
The “why” is essentially the root of the issue, and if you’ve ever pulled up a weed but didn’t pull up the root, then you know that weed is going to come back faster, stronger, and bigger!!!
So it’s a MUST that you spend some time figuring out why in the heck you can’t stop burning that plastic up.
-Do you buy things because you’re competitive and can’t imagine someone else having better than you or owning something you don’t have?
-Do you have an addictive personality that leads you to buy buy buy?
-Do you shop when you’re bored or in emotional distress?
-Is it a social thing for you?
-Do you get a high from buying stuff?
-Are you an online shopper buying stuff to procrastinate from doing the hard tasks in front of you?
-Are you trying to fill an emotional hole?
-Are you insecure and trying to gain bravado and exude confidence with “things”?
-Is it a form of escape for you?
-Are you running from a mental issue such as depression?
And trust me, there ain’t no judgment here because I fall into a few of those categories myself!!!
But there is power in understanding the reason, because then you can get to the real root of the problem and come up with solutions that you’re likely to stick to. The reason is like a cue or trigger that puts a whole chain of events into motion without you even giving it a second thought…it starts a habit loop.
Never heard of a habit loop? Neither had I until I read, “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg, life changing stuff! In it he describes how the choices that we intentionally make every day become routine, and at some point, cease to be choices and become habits. And by understanding how and why this happens, you have the ability to transform those habits however you would like.
For example, imagine its 3 pm on a Monday (ugh the pits) and you’re sitting at your desk staring at the clock, willing it to move just a little faster and fighting the urge to yawn for the millionth time. Just then your co-worker pops into your cubicle and asks if you want to run down to the local coffee spot and grab a cuppa’.
Of course your answer is yes …so you happily head right on down. You feel light hearted and instantly awake as you walk away from your desk, and are positively beaming by the time that hot latte and buttery pastry hits your lips…what a reward!
This happens maybe once or twice a week, but then you find yourself making this trek every single day and can’t even recall when or why you started doing it. In fact, it has become such an ingrained routine that if you happen to miss your daily ritual something feels off and sometimes you’re down right irritable until you get your fix!
Do you see what just happened there??? At some point, your choice became a habit, you were no longer making a conscious decision. There’s a whole lotta science behind this, but we won’t get into that here…just know that your brain is set up to make a routine out of repetitive tasks as quickly as possible so that it saves its energy for more intensive tasks…like actually working at work hehe.
In our example, you initially decided to get up and go get that coffee because you were probably suffering from the mid afternoon energy slump and probably getting bored! <——This became the trigger or cue to your habit loop!
You say, “man I’m tired and bored”…and your brain says, “oh yea, I remember this…tired and bored = last time we gots the coffees.”. This cycle repeats over and over until BOOM, you find yourself down in the coffee shop don’t even realize how you got there.
Then you get your coffee and pastry, which becomes the reward cementing in your brain that this is a habit worth keeping. This loop continues over and over and intensifies until it becomes full blown anticipation and cravings…and this is what drives the habit loop.
Now you anxiously anticipate that 3 o’clock time and crave the energy rush from the coffee and donut. And once you’ve graduated to the cravings stage, you will act automatically EVERY.SINGLE.TIME that trigger presents itself.
It’s seriously like a shot of serotonin straight to the brain…and your waistline will NOT thank you. This same situation applies to your spending habits as well, so you can see why it feels so darn good to buy stuff!
I’m so serious about this, I’m not making it up!!! And if you understand it, then you can change it using a simple formula. Old Trigger + New Routine + Old Reward = Changed Habit
That’s it…its that simple.
Here’s the simple 3-step process I have personally used to change my crappy habits, including my Target addiction!
KNOW YOUR TRIGGERS AND REWARDS
You gotta know why in the heck you decided to start shopping in the first place. Look back at our list of reasons from above, for example are you bored when you start scrolling Nordy’s website? If so, then you know that boredom = shopping for you. So watch out for that, it’s a cue to your brain to go ahead and run the installed shopping program on autopilot! Hello new Jimmy Choo’s!!!
And how do you feel once you have those new pumps in hand, do you feel a little thrill or high from owning a new “toy”? If so, then you’ve identified the “reward”, which tells your mind, “yea this is a totally legit habit…let’s keep it up!”
Once you nail down these two things, you can fiddle with the middle lol.
INSERT A NEW ROUTINE
Ok let’s be real here, you’re not going to be able to change the fact that at times you get bored, right? And you probably can’t change the fact that every time you get shiny new things you feel all excited. So why fight the inevitable??? But you CAN change the routine that plays out in the middle. Think about other activities that make you feel all giddy inside.
Does learning something new excite you? Then learn a new language during your “bored” moments…
Do you get a jolt of energy after an uber intense gym session? Then get stoked about sweating it out in that new Zumba class you’ve been eyeing, or queue up your Hip Hop Abs DVD…
Does a phone call to a good friend you’ve haven’t spoken to in a long time spur those feelings of happiness? Then make a list of those out of touch friends and get to dialing…
Do you feel a sense of accomplishment when you’re productive and get things done? Then tackle that Pinterest worthy DIY project you’ve been dying to try or check off some of your less urgent to do list items.
The options are endless! It may take a little trial and error but once you’ve found your mojo its time to craft a new routine! So instead of a habit loop that looks like this boredom —> let’s shop —> yummy magical high….it could go something like this.
You: Man I’m bored / lonely / tired (insert all the things)
Brain: OH SNAP, let’s call Sharleen, I haven’t talked to her in forever. I really miss her, wonder how she is.
You: Good idea!!!
*after lovely phone call*
You: It was sooo nice getting to catch up with Sharleen and I can’t wait until our lunch meeting!
Brain: Yea that was exciting….let’s do it again sometime.
So now you have boredom —> call the homie —>yummy magical high! What’s not to love??? Sounds like a win win to me.
WASH, RINSE, REPEAT
Now that your new routine is in place…wash rinse repeat. In order to make it stick, you simply repeat the process EVERY.SINGLE.TIME that trigger pops up. This is where the magic juju happens and before you know it, you’ll have replaced that shopping habit with something that’s sustainable that you feel great about. You’ll notice that you start to crave and anticipate the wonderful feelings associated with your new routine.
Congratulations woman! #BOOM You’ve successfully pimp slapped that knee jerk reaction…now go celebrate.
I don’t know about you, but I have learned the hard way that most people can’t get rid of old habits by sheer will power, but seriously guys, you CAN change them! And honestly, it has nothing to do with will power or lack of self discipline…so give yourself a break! You brain is literally wired to crave habits and routines, if ya put junk in you’ll get junk right back out.
But you’re NOT powerless and it doesn’t have to be uber hard to learn a better way to do things. So quit lying to yourself boo thang, you ain’t gonna stop shopping over night every time you get bored. But understanding the how and why gives you a fighting chance to change those old habits for good. And that’s fact.