Are you a splurger when it comes to money? It’s never been easier to spend large sums of money on impulse without stopping to think too much about it. Being a splurge or binge spender can obviously be harmful to your finances, as a large amount of money leaving your bank account all in one go usually leaves a big hole in your budget – a hole that could take a very, very long time to climb out from.
Money splurges aren’t controlled or planned, and usually take the form of a single extra large ‘big ticket item’ purchase or a spree where several mid-priced or expensive items are purchased in quick succession. Big ticket splurges are often for high status things like exotic holidays, fast cars, tech or AV hardware, or designer handbags or shoes. Sprees often include several outfits of clothing, a slew of tickets and memberships, or large amounts of premium beauty products and services.
So, what makes someone become a binge spender? And just as importantly, how can you stop?
Signs you might be a splurge spender
Can you say yes to one or more of these? Be warned, some of these might make you squirm if they’re true for you:
- You own the biggest widescreen TV on your street, even though it’s too big for your living room
- Payday means shop, shop, shop, shop – you deserve a great big treat (even if you haven’t been all that good)
- It’s important to you to drive an expensive car, to show other drivers who’s the boss
- You always have to be the first one of your friends to try or buy something new and expensive
- Apple release a new product? You’re there at the store on opening day without waiting for the reviews
- You know you’re living a lifestyle that you absolutely can’t afford, but hey, YOLO…
- Buying things just to make other people jealous seems like a really cool idea
- You spend a fortune on your holidays, but don’t bother to buy travel insurance
- If a celebrity owns something, you think you have a right to own it too
- Feelings of shame, or that you’d rather die than admit you can’t afford something
- When you go to browse for something, a salesperson can easily talk you into buying it there and then
- Salespeople can easily ‘upsell’ you to a bundle you don’t really need or a more expensive model
- You go out to get one thing, you come home with ten other unplanned purchases
Do any of those sound familiar? Most of us have had an ‘uh-oh’ moment with one or more of those at some time in our lives…
What are the psychological factors behind this?
There are many factors that can be the driving force behind harmful binge spending. For example:
- Not knowing how to handle negative emotions such as feeling frustrated, down or depressed, or being stressed or anxious
- Overcompensating for something: insecurity, lack of status, a sense of being not good enough or not part of a group
- A false sense of entitlement, or feeling superior to others
- General immaturity, unhealthy levels of jealousy, or being unable to control impulses
- Overspending and binge spending being normalised or celebrated in the media, or by friends or relatives
- Excessive susceptibility to being influenced by advertising
- Less emphasis on savings-led culture, where we’re more likely to buy now and repent later, rather than saving up for things
How to stop being a splurge spender
The easiest way for most of us to avoid binge spending and splurges is to focus on living on a budget, and saving up for things. It also helps most people if they are able to focus on prioritising their spending, so they buy things that have all-round importance.
Some people also find it useful to have some ‘mad money‘ put aside. This means having some specific savings that you can spend on whatever you like, guilt free, so that you don’t feel too constrained by your budget. You might be less likely to rebel against your own good advice if there’s a valve that allows you to let off some steam.
If positive psychology doesn’t work for you, take a long, hard look at everything that you’ve borrowed, or think realistically about what might happen if you continue spending excessively and can’t easily pay it back.
If you think you might have issues with anxiety, depression, mood swings or impulse control, make an appointment to see your GP. Help is available for excessive spenders and for other related issues.
Sometimes you can be successful if you deliberately avoid any personal triggers. For example, plan ahead for a nice relaxing day away from the shops on payday, or avoid spending the weekend shopping with that friend of yours who’s a really bad influence.
You might also need to plan ahead for times when you need to comfort yourself or reduce your stress levels. Have a plan for what you’ll do on days like these that doesn’t involve shopping or spending. For example, read a book, watch a movie, chat with a friend who makes you laugh, take some exercise, or do some pampering with home made beauty products.
Finally, there’s the option of counselling, therapy or self-hypnosis if you have problems such as insecurity, jealousy or a lack of confidence that are making life difficult.
As you can see, there are plenty of options available if you need to make some changes to your lifestyle and spending habits.
Are you a splurge spender? What are your biggest temptations, and what’s on your ‘one day I’m going to buy…’ list?
If you liked this article, you may also like ‘Are you a money fritterer?‘ in the Money Minded section.