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Don’t Make Excuses – The Psychology of Debt and Spending

May 9, 2011 · 10 comments

in Personal Finance

Have you ever sat down and thought why you do the things you do – the things you do as a part of everyday life, the decisions you make based on your own life experiences and lessons?  We all are born into a unique family dynamic.  This dynamic, along with the influences of friends and the media, all help shape the adult we become. Along the way, our views toward spending, child rearing, education, and more are formed, without even a thought.  Maybe you were raised with a family that refused to spend a dime on anything and end up becoming frugal yourself.  Or, instead of becoming frugal, you go wild with your first credit card, trying to make up for a lifetime of being denied.

If, in the above example, you go down the over-spending route, you will probably buy a lot more than just items you don’t need. Sure, you might be nicely dressed and possess the flashiest car.  However, bankruptcy and debt might just be looming around the corner if such spending goes unchecked.  On the other hand, by choosing extreme frugality, you may end up bitter and angry because you may feel you’ve passed up a lifetime of experiences and convenience.

Some of these extreme habits can be incredibly hard to break.  Most of our ‘core’ behaviour patterns have a deep history, which may stem from either positive or negative circumstances. Regardless, once a person is an adult, it is their responsibility to address these issues instead of just saying “it was how I was raised”.

There are millions of articles on the internet on how to stop from spending.  However, the answers are rarely as easy as they sound. For instance, many people have a deep emotional component to their spending.  For those individuals, simple tactics such as cutting up credit cards may not be enough.  Perhaps you need to look deep down and talk with someone about the root cause of your spending. Otherwise, short term actions may just act as a band-aid instead of a cure. In some cases, just getting another person involved can help, whether it is a friend, spouse, co-worker, or counselor.  Being accountable to others is a great way to change behavior, and sometimes talking about an issue can help you realize the source of a problem.

 

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

First Gen American May 9, 2011 at 10:31 am

You’re so right about the emotional component of spending, saving, and even holding down a job. It’s also amazing how there are people who have polar opposite views of these three subjects. Some people may think working is a good thing (even if the job is not the best)even to the point where they base their whole identity on their working selves, but others think the total opposite, that ever hour spent doing something for someone else is soul sucking hell.

I’m always fascinated by the psychology of personal finance. Thanks for the article.

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Kris May 10, 2011 at 2:38 pm

First Gen, I am glad you enjoyed the post I wrote.

I used to tie a lot more of my identity to my job, but no more. And, I am a lot more happy for it too. Much less stress.

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Sandy H @ Journey To Our Home May 10, 2011 at 7:56 pm

I totally agree that spending can be very emotional. When I’m a little depressed I tend to want to go out and buy stuff. But I’ve curbed that. Now just to work on my husband who seems to always want to buy stuff. :-) I think he just likes expensive toys!
Good post!
Sandy H @ Journey To Our Home recently posted..A year ago

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Kris May 12, 2011 at 11:07 pm

I hope you have many happy, spend-free days Sandy. (And your husband too!) However, feel free to treat yourself to chocolate each and every day.

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Frugal Saver May 18, 2011 at 3:27 pm

As someone who always counted every penny and dime, it never ceases to amaze me how people can become “addicted” to spending. Then again, I was raised on the philosophy that if you want something, you have to save up for it. I agree that once you are an adult, you can’t use your family dynamic as an excuse to spend frivolously – but knowing my limits from a young age certainly helped. We all learn to spend differently as we grow. For some of my friends, that meant sitting down with a financial planner, setting strict budgets and downsizing. For me, it meant cutting myself a break and buying a little treat every now and then. It’s always good to find the happy medium.

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online loans June 15, 2012 at 4:30 am

People use different exuses to justify themselves for not saving money.But there’s no place for any exuses if you have debts to pay off and can not stop spending money.Lots of people have trobles with the money management and spend more money than they earn.Debt never comes alone,it brings lots of other problems and in most of ocassions new debts.To stop spending you need to make a decision and think about all the advantages that debt-free life can bring you.At first it’s important to create a plan and think the way you can cut your budget,set achievable financial goals,motivate yourself and the result of your work will appear shortly.

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debt advice August 16, 2012 at 6:32 am

Our emotions have a lot of contribution to our everyday behavior and thinking. Everything starts with our emotions, every decisions that we make even just the little ones are being attributed by our emotions. But the good thing about this is we HUMANS are capable of controlling our emotions and feelings, which means if we want to avoid spending and set our financial goals we can do so with a little bit of pushing and discipline on our part.
debt advice recently posted..One in eight workers turn to payday loans

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Cambria Rhay May 6, 2014 at 2:06 pm

This is an amazing article. I just recently got married and I am definitely stressing over our finances. Both of us are very frugal and financially conscious but for some reason, we’re spending a lot lately. I think that some of these psychological factors are coming into play. I would love to visit a psychologist and research this further! I’m sure it would help us a lot financially! http://www.sojo.ca

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