In addition to the external pressure we face from marketing, our own feelings and habits can contribute to excessive spending. Here are six suggestions to help you keep spending under control.
Resist impulse buying. Do you enjoy the excitement of shopping and finding a bargain? If so, you may tend to purchase on impulse. To resist, slow down and think realistically about the long-term consequences of buying, owning, and maintaining what you are planning to buy. Stop and remember past impulse purchases that you later regretted. Give yourself a “cooldown” period before making your final decision.
Avoid shopping to alter your mood. Shopping can temporarily lift you out of a bad mood. But when negative feelings return, you may feel even stronger pressure to seek relief through spending. Instead of shopping to improve your mood, seek out supportive friends or engage in some physical activity, such as taking a walk.
Do not shop for recreation. Lavish shopping malls have turned shopping into entertainment. Although you may visit a mall or browse the Internet simply for enjoyment, much of what you see is designed to stimulate your desire to buy. Shop only when you have a specific purchase in mind, and stick to your plan.
Choose your associations carefully. The lifestyle and conversation of your friends greatly influence your desires. If you are overspending to keep pace with your friends, then choose friends who place less emphasis on money and material things.
Use credit cards wisely. Credit cards make it easy for you to buy while ignoring the consequences. Try to pay credit card balances in full each month. Know your credit card’s interest rates and fees, and compare credit offers to find the most affordable cards. Be wary of premium cards that have higher borrowing costs and offer benefits that you do not need. Instead of purchasing on credit, save for larger purchases and pay cash.
Know your financial status. It is easier to spend excessively if you are not sure about your financial status. Keep up-to-date records, and know your total financial situation. Create a realistic monthly spending plan based on your income and past expenses. Track your spending, and compare it with your plan. Ask a trusted friend for help in understanding financial matters that are unfamiliar to you.
Protecting Children From Consumer Culture
Children are a special target of advertisers, and understandably so. Young people are shopping and spending more than ever before. In the United States, teenagers represent a multibillion-dollar annual market.
However, researcher Juliet Schor suggests that children who are highly involved in consumer culture are more prone to childhood depression and anxiety and have worse relationships with their parents. How can you protect your children? Consider the practical ways some parents have endeavored to protect their children.
EDUCATE: “You cannot totally protect kids from advertising because it is everywhere. So we explain to our girls that advertisers have an agenda and that the companies that hire them want money. They don’t have our best interests in mind.”—James and Jessica.
STAY IN CONTROL: “Kids put pressure on you to buy, and they really try to break you down. But it is important not to give in. Eventually they learn that they won’t get everything. As we were raising our daughter, we often talked together as parents about how to be balanced and what limits to set.”—Scott and Kelli.
LIMIT EXPOSURE: “Our family watches very little television. It’s just not a part of our family routine. We fill time that could be spent watching TV with other activities. We cook and eat together, and our boys are avid readers.”—John and Jenniffer.
* Excerpt from jw.org