Posted by Tim Stobbs on May 7, 2010
Have you ever had one of those weeks where you feel like the walking dead by the end of it? I’ve had one of those. It really hasn’t been any given item that pushed me over the edge, but the compounded effect of everything. I won’t bore you with a play by play, but the one item I found really weird was this: I didn’t spend any money.
I haven’t spent a dollar of my spending cash so far this week. Nothing, at all. No coffee at work, lunch out, snack, stiff drink, movie or anything. So is that a way to save money? Be REALLY busy all the time? I personally don’t think it would be a good idea in the long run, but it does raise an interesting question. When you are stressed out how does your spending habits change? Obviously in my case I shut down a bit and don’t spend at all. I’ve seen others who do the opposite, when things get rough they increase their spending on little rewards or guilty pleasures. Another person might be a bit of shopaholic and spend to make themselves feel better for even the minor stuff.
Knowing how you react to stress with your spending is a useful piece of information because if you are really good you can plan for it. In my case, when I don’t spend for a while I tend to roll the cash into a ‘want item’ like my recent blu-ray purchase. If you tend to drift to the spending side, you might want to only keep a little bit of cash on you if you know you are going to have a bad week. Another option is to have control value spending where you will only buy one little treat per day when you are stressed up to a maximum of like $20 per two weeks or what ever you feel comfortable with.
The point is you need to plan for how you handle things now rather than hope you will suddenly change. True change in a person is very hard to do in the short term, so often people try to do better and then fail. When in reality it would be easier and more effective if they just planned for how the are rather than try to be something they are not. So being true to yourself might mean putting your credit card in a block of ice or only carrying cash. It’s not a failing to do this, find what works for you and then use it. There is no shame in being crappy at tracking your spending or not using a budget, as long as you spend less than you earn.
It’s not to say people can’t change, but rather it takes time. So in the mean time, don’t set yourself up for failure. Plan for your stress style of spending and then suddenly a bad week doesn’t have to turn into a bad month financially.
So how do you spend under stress? Are you saver or a spender? If you spend, what do you typically buy?