4 Steps to Take Control of Your Wallet

Published: October 8, 2015 | Updated: July 3, 2020 | Posted by: Carlo Miguel Castañeda | Lifestyle, Personal Finance


There’s that moment every payday when all that you can think about is how you might feel after you buy something that you’ve been itching to get. A little retail therapy never hurt anyone, after all.

There’s also a moment when you might feel like you need to get something to de-stress from a very long work week or an emotionally charged situation. This might mean that your wants control the way you spend, which is also called emotional spending.

According to psychologist and founder of Dionco James Dion, emotional spending can be a form of avoidance, or not wanting to deal with things that are confusing, or upsetting. “People prone to avoidance behaviors must first confront their total financial picture, from expenses to checking account balances,” he says.

This can make you more prone to overspending and stretching your budget thin each month. Here’s how you can deal when your wants control your wallet.

Give It Time

An impulse purchase comes about when you’re window shopping, whether that’s a physical shop or online. This doesn’t just mean not springing for that tiny packet of chocolate at the checkout aisle; this means stopping yourself as soon as you pick up an item that wasn’t planned in the first place.

If you find yourself wanting something that you see in a store, give yourself 24 hours to weigh whether or not you want to buy it. If you still want it after that time period, but find yourself thinking that you can’t afford it, maybe postpone the purchase until you have enough money without dipping into other places in your budget.

Avoid Ads

While some ads are inescapable, you can curb the chances that you develop a need by unsubscribing from any product catalogs or alerts from your favorite online stores. Odds are you also tend to receive unsolicited offers for credit cards, or deals for travel, and unsubscribing or opting-out will go a long way towards stopping any unwanted spending.

Manage Temptation

There are way too many times that you’ll find yourself in the mall for no apparent reason. Most of the time, you’ll window shop a little – it’s unavoidable. There are also moments when you find yourself spending more when out with friends or family.

When the temptation hits, it can be kind of difficult to avoid. Instead of avoiding, you can manage your temptation. You can put the things you want to get on a wishlist, even order them according to price so that you can organize any “treat yo’self” spending.

Find Free Alternative Activities

If retail therapy is your go-to after bad days, you might need a new activity. Maybe try something that’s out of your usual comfort zone: like a Parkour class, or board games over dinner with friends.

If you tend to shop online, there’s a ton of ways to distract yourself from hitting the buy button on your favorite shopping site: Take a few online language courses, or even classes that get you a new skill – which enhances your overall resume.

If that bad day is getting to be a little much, consider calling a friend for coffee instead of indulging in an impromptu (and costly) shopping spree. If you really must buy yourself something to make you feel better, a book or a bar of inexpensive chocolate may do the trick just fine.

The goal isn’t to stop yourself from buying anything that you want to enjoy. It’s to stop you from turning your wallet into a ghost town within a weekend of getting your paycheck.  After all, there’s nothing bad about the occasional spree – but instead of grabbing every little thing that you think you need, consider your finances and take control of your wallet.