Today, more and more people are using their wallets to cope with work and personal life-related stress. This form of retail therapy is used to buy jewelry, cars, and sometimes even permanent tattoos on impulse alone.
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However, the hefty credit card bills lead to plenty of regrets once the shopping spree ends. This behavior is more commonly seen during the holiday season when people throw caution to the wind and indulge in a lot of stress shopping.
An overwhelming number of people usually get terribly stressed out by the intense pressure of holiday shopping. While stress spending might get amplified over the holidays, the reality is that it is not a problem so much as a symptom of an underlying issue. In other words, impulsive stress-related spending might happen all year-round. This means that many unfortunate souls have to go through endless cycles of stressing and spending to reduce the stress; only to start stressing again because they could not afford all that stress shopping in the first place.
The Cycle of Stress Spending
Once people start feeling stressed out, they can purchase anything from relatively small items such as alcohol and clothes to cars and even property. The cycle of stress spending is rather like trying to lose weight. A person tries to shed the extra unwanted pounds only to start eating high-calorie high-carb foods again. This means they gain more weight, and this stresses them out, so they start eating even more only to gain even more weight. Many surveys conducted on this topic have shown that the vast majority of people have indulged in such compulsive behavior at least once in their lives. This showcases the gravity of the problem.
Causes of Stress Spending
There are many issues that lead people to indulge in a bit of shopping therapy. Some of them include the following:
o Personal Finances
The biggest reason happens to be a lack of fiscal discipline regarding personal finances and related issues. If people can’t afford something, they just might buy it precisely because they can’t afford it. This translates to credit card bills and other loans that they have to pay back. It leads to stressful situations that, in turn, trigger stress spending.
o Emotional Trauma and Anxiety
The emotional toll of anger, anxiety, failed relationships, and resulting depression can lead to severe stress. For many people suffering from these issues, stress spending is the only way they can find any relief.
o Family and Work-Related Pressures
Modern living has its own pressures, and immediate family and workplace-related stress can also significantly impact our buying behavior. Sometimes, work and home feuds can compel people to go on a stress spending spree.
Different Ways That Can Help You Avoid Stress-Related Spending
Erratic spending behavior is itself a causative factor for severe stress. This is why it is very important to try and avoid compulsive shopping and eliminate this problem once and for all.
Limiting Credit Card Usage
Most people use their credit cards to make impulse purchases because either they don’t have sufficient cash with them or they feel like going to the ATM makes them even more vulnerable. For many of these people, credit card stress spending does not come under the same regime, and it is a whole lot easier to swipe the card in lieu of casually lightening a heavy wallet.
In this case, the solution is very simple. Swipe the card for cash, and the urge will go away. Every time you have to pay for an item, you will be forced to pull out hard cash and give it away. This alone will almost certainly make you think twice before indulging in a bit of stress shopping.
Sometimes, credit cards are better off locked away in the safe instead of being in your wallet and easily assessable all the time.
o Step Away and Think the Purchase Decision through
Even if you are very confident that you want that pair of sneakers at the outlet, you should still walk around the mall and look for other alternatives instead of rushing to the cash register.
Sometimes, it is not you but the point of sale (POS) material that is responsible for gently nudging you towards a stress spending decision.
o Always Double-Check Your Own Motives
A little self-analysis can go a very long way towards eliminating any residual retail therapy ideas. Before you leave your home to go shopping, you should spend a few moments in the car to pause and reflect on your decision. Why are you going shopping, anyway? Is it workplace-related stress shopping? Are you feeling frustrated because of a bad fight at home? Feelings of insecurity? Any or all of them combined can be the underlying motivating factors for your stress shopping decision.
Sometimes, your confidence levels—or lack thereof—can also contribute to a stress-spending decision. People who are more confident and consider themselves to be powerful tend to buy stuff based on the quality, performance, and the overall utility of the purchase.
On the other hand, people who have low self-esteem and feel powerless, for the most part, tend to buy items that would make them feel good about themselves by helping them gain attention or stand out, or contribute to their status amongst the people around them.
In light of the above, we can safely see that most forms of impulse and stress spending can be dangerous enough to leave people in an endless loop. This can also easily leave you with plenty of buyer’s remorse as well as post-purchase dissonance.
This is why in case you ever end up feeling that you are shopping not because you need or want something but due to impulsive reasons that have underlying factors, it will certainly be a whole lot better leaving the items on the shelf instead of dumping everything in your shopping cart. This holds equally true for both online and offline stress shopping decisions.