- Anamarie Diaz
Creating Intention with Your Spending
Updated: Nov 16, 2022
We live in a spending obsessed society. Everywhere we turn we are being sold to, advertised to, and pressured to spend money. According to one statistic, Americans spend at least $18,000 a year on non-essential items. This begs the question, are our purchases worth it?
The pressure to spend in our society is ever increasing. Take one minute to scroll through almost any social media platform and you’ll encounter at least five ads or posts to buy something. This has only been compounded by the rise of social media influencers pushing brands and products on their followers (or really anyone who will listen). It’s a constant noise of buy this thing and your life will get better in this way. As a female in her, *cough*, late twenties, the pressure I feel to “keep up” high. While I almost always keep scrolling when I see an ad for a thing that will make my life better, there is often a voice in the back of my head that says, “I mean, I might need that though…”. Do I actually need it, of course not, but the thought is still there. And sometimes, I do buy the thing. Recently, I saw a Tik Tok of a girl who explained how to correctly fill in your eyebrows. Something that I am not ashamed to admit, I have been trying to figure out. She mentioned three products that you need, and you better believe that the next time I was at Target, I bought those three products. Did I need those products? No. And the only person who has noticed the difference in my eyebrows has been me.
So if spending money isn’t out of necessity, then why do we do it? Well, one reason is that spending brings a sense of joy. Even if it’s fleeting joy, we get joy from buying new things. I was super excited to go home and try out these new eyebrow enhancing products. It’s thrilling to get new things. Think back to when you were a kid and you got a gift. You were over the moon. The idea of having a new toy to play with was almost too amazing to handle. The only difference between being a kid getting a new present and now, is we pay for our new gift. But the excitement is still there (even if it’s to a lesser degree). Another reason is that spending can bring a sense of fulfillment. Having more things can seem like the solution when we feel as though there is a gap in our life. Mental health plays a huge role in this. From personal experience with my own struggles with mental health, I remember frequent trips to Target buying anything because it made me feel better. It didn’t matter if that feeling was brief. All that mattered was that the feeling happened.
This issue with this type of spending isn’t that the item is not a necessity. We’re allowed to spend money on things that we don’t need. But the issue is that we usually don’t even want the things we buy. A quick glance around the room I’m currently in, I have spotted three things that make me shrug my shoulders and ask, “why did I buy that?” Take a look around the room you’re in, spot anything that makes you ask the same question?
So what happens after we buy the thing? I like to call this the aftermath. After the initial joy, excitement, fulfillment has worn off, we are often left with regret, frustration, and disappointment. Sometimes those feelings happen even earlier in the process of spending. I have many memories of being at the checkout, scanning an item, seeing the price, and feeling regret. I haven’t even bought the thing yet and I’m already regretting it! The next thought that runs through my head is, “well it’s too late now, so you might as well swipe your card.” And I do. The simplicity of the swipe means that I don’t necessarily have to see my bank account balance go down. So that’s a problem for future me. But, spending shouldn’t always lead to the aftermath. Yes, there will be purchases that we have to make but don’t want to. But the goal is to eliminate the aftermath feelings. And we do that by bringing intention into our spending.
Spending shouldn’t be random or mindless. Notice that I didn’t say impulsive (more on that later). Spending money should be the outcome of reflection and the identification of what is most important to you. Figuring out what is most important to you comes from creating financial goals. Having a clear idea of what you want your life to look like and by extension what you want to spend your money on can curb the randomness of buying things. Take a look at your bank account or credit card statement. Do you have a clear memory of all the purchases you’ve made in the past month? Your bank statements should be a reflection of who you are and what is important to you. If you looked at my bank statement you’d realize that I’m a runner and I enjoy eating out. Both of those things, running and eating out, are important to me.
Impulsive spending can be another factor that leads to the aftermath. However, impulsive spending isn’t always a bad thing to a certain extent. My fiancé and I go grocery shopping every Sunday. Usually when we’re standing in line at Trader Joes we get confronted by the dark chocolate peanut butter cups. And every so often, we lose that confrontation and buy the treat. Was that purchase necessary? No. Does that purchase fulfill a financial goal? No. So, one would think that we regret that purchase. But that would also be wrong. Enjoying those chocolates on the drive home from the grocery story definitely makes the whole experience a little better. An impulsive buy like isn’t the end of the world. Now impulsively buying 10 packs of chocolate peanut butter cups, or a bunch of new clothes, or a stack of new music might lead to the aftermath. Creating space in your budget for small impulsive buys relieves the aftermath feelings. And if you are an impulsive spender, then finding ways to eliminate temptation might be the way to go. I’m an impulsive Target shopper. So, when I need something from Target I eliminate temptation by purchasing the item through the app then doing drive up pick up. The sales associate brings the item to my car and I never go into the store. Could I walk into the store and buy the item just like everyone else? Sure. But ordering through the app eliminates the temptation and the need for self control. It’s an easy option for me.
Intentional spending will bring more joy, excitement, and fulfillment that lasts longer to your purchases. Reflection and the identification of what is important to you leads to intentional spending. When you buy something that you truly want, the aftermath doesn’t happen. You can then start creating a life with things that are actually important to you, rather than surrounding yourself with stuff.
Do you feel like your spending is a little of out control? Not sure if there are places for you to cut your spending in your monthly expenses? Schedule a free 30 minute call with me!