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Your spending personality is a combination of your personal priorities and goals and your own personality quirks—and also possibly a remnant of some habits you unconsciously picked up from your parents growing up.
Understanding your spending personality enables you to guard against its pitfalls and ensure that you’re making the best financial decisions for your overall goals, not just doing the same things you always do.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common spending personalities, and then (once you’ve identified which one you are), we can discuss how to handle them.
…Often feel like you just “have to have” something the instant you see it, can easily justify the reasons why a random purchase makes total sense, and usually come home from a shopping trip with more than you intended to buy…then you’re probably An Impulse Buyer.
…Can’t pass by a bargain in any form (limited-time-only sale, clearance, garage sale) and often find yourself bringing home things you don’t really need just because a deal was “too good to pass up”…then you’re probably A Bargain Addict.
…Buy the same brands you’ve always bought, pay for convenience items like coffee on the go or lunches out, and find yourself at end of the month with no idea where all your money went…then you’re probably A Lazy Spender.
…Wear your clothes until they’ve disintegrated, wash plastic sandwich baggies so you can use them again, and have great difficulty bringing yourself to purchase anything unless it’s a life or death situation…then you’re probably A Spendaphobe.
…Shop for fun, when you’re down, when you’re celebrating something, when you’re bored, or any other excuse you can think of…then you’re probably A Shopaholic.
Do any of these descriptions sound familiar? Then read on to learn how to can curb your natural tendencies and become a smarter shopper.
If you’re an Impulse Buyer…It’s time to learn the 30-day rule. Namely, if you see something you love so much you must have it now, put it on layaway (or bookmark it if it’s online) and revisit it in 30 days. Chances are, you won’t even remember half the things you so desperately wanted 30 days earlier. And if you do (and you still desperately want it), then it’s time to consider how it will fit into your budget. That’s right: it’s still gotta pass the budget test. (But if you really do want it that badly, you’ll find a way to make it fit, even if it means sacrificing something else.)
If you’re a Bargain Addict…It’s time to learn to resist Shiny On-Sale Object syndrome. Just because something is discounted (even severely discounted), that doesn’t mean you need to buy it. Instead, ask yourself whether you’ll really use whatever it is that’s on sale, and also ask yourself if the bargain you’re drooling over really is truly all that great. If you can start being more deliberate about your savings (clipping coupons and comparing them against weekly store circulars for the biggest bargain), you’ll winding up saving much more in the long run than you would with those impulse bargain purchases…and you won’t have a pantry full of condiments you’d never go through in several lifetimes.
If you’re a Lazy Spender…It’s time to start doing some work—that’s the only way around this one. It doesn’t have to be life-consuming work; just setting up some systems and learning to think deliberately about your spending will make a big difference. Set some time aside to create a budget (I know it’s no fun, but you need one), then start picking up tricks like couponing in order to make sure your spending falls within that budget. Once you start tracking your purchases, you’ll see all sorts of ways you can cut out those lazy purchases (like buying lunch meat for sandwiches during the week so you’re not forced to run out for fast food every day).
If you’re a Spendaphobe…It’s time to realize that frugality can go too far. While being cost-conscious and learning to live with less is an admirable goal, there are some things that are worth spending a little money on. The key is identifying what your priorities are. If you value time with your family and have a really hectic work life, maybe putting a little aside for a yearly vacation would be an expense worth spending for because it would create memories and give you a chance to unwind. If you’re very health-conscious, it might be worth shelling out a little extra for organic produce or yoga classes so you feel your best. Spending money in and of itself is not evil; spending it recklessly is.
If you’re a Shopaholic…It’s time to find some other ways to fill your time and deal with your emotions. If you tend to shop when you’re down, call a friend to vent over coffee or go for a run to work out those feelings. If you shop when you’re bored, take up a hobby or join a class to amuse yourself in more constructive ways. The less free time you have to fill, the less likely you’ll be pulled toward the mall.
Have I missed any of the major spending personalities? What would you say yours is?
Share your experiences by commenting below!
***Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/andrewarchy/2527200986/