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When do you shop? When you’re bored? Happy? Sad? Pissed off? Excited? Because it’s a habit?

by J. Money on Friday, April 30, 2010

emoticon magnets
Have you ever thought about how much emotions play into our spending habits? Cuz I gotta be honest with you, I’d say that 98% or more of my shopping trips (non-bill related stuff) is tied to one or more of these real life emoticons ;) And from the looks of My Pretty Penny‘s latest post I’m not the only one!

Let’s go down memory lane, shall we?

J. Money growing up: Money was used for one thing, and one thing only – to buy something I needed. Or saved up for after months and months of stashing away my $1/week allowances.  There was no way I was blowing it w/out deep consideration, so def. no emotions here.

J. Money during college: Things start changing…back in the good ol’ days I used to hit up the mall after EVERY exam just for knocking it out.  It didn’t matter whether I did well or not  – just as long as I showed up and took it ;)  Lame, I know…but the point is, it was EXCITING!  I looked forward to these escapes since I knew I’d be “allowed” to pick up something for myself – even if all I could afford was $20 at the time.

J. Money after college: Oh man, there was no stopping me – I’d go shopping EVERY WEEKEND.  Sometimes for clothes, sometimes for new additions for the bachelor pad – but whatever it was, I was out there shopping for it.  I call this my bored time.  And also my “let’s-pretend-spending-this-money-gets-me-some-hot-chicks” time!  (and I think it worked!)

J. Money now: Now, I pretty much just spend money whenever ;) When I’m happy, sad, bored – when something’s needed, it doesn’t matter.  The DIFFERENCE is that now it’s all allotted for. I have a few hundred $ in my “random” fund that I can pick at whenever the mood strikes! That way I never get myself into too much trouble…usually.

Also, I’m getting better at spending in “chunks.”  If there’s something I need or really want to research more (aka probably buy), I just wait for whenever I’m up for it. Sometimes that’s a day, or even a week, but shopping this route is MUCH more efficient and fun.  And sometimes the things I thought I wanted at the time fade away! I may not be as spontaneous as I used to be, but damn if I’m not happy with the way my bank account is lookin’.

What about you all? When do you guys tend to buy things?

(photo by somegeekintn)


{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Keith @ LifeTuner April 30, 2010 at 9:33 am

I mostly just eat when I’m bored. :)

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2 Young Mogul April 30, 2010 at 9:53 am

Currently, I usually only shop in stores when I need something because I seriously hate shopping. But, online shopping is a different story. However, since starting my road to Financial Freedom, I have begun to tame the beast.

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3 Brandi April 30, 2010 at 10:48 am

I find that now-a-days I mostly buy things (clothes/accessories/electronics etc) when I find I have some extra extra cash around and I am ready to reward myself for something.

When I started the weight loss journey it seemed a tad…counter productive to celebrate a lost pound with a giant dairy queen blizzard. SO instead I started telling myself…lose 5 pounds, get a new pair of jeans. Lose 7 pounds, get some fun new make up. Lose 10 pounds, get an EXTRA massage this month (i get one every month regardless…I owe it to myself!!).

And all those things are now budgeted for so they don’t hinder my debt payoff plan!!

I love to buy things. LOVE to. Unfortunately I also hate spending money. It’s like the devil and angel on my shoulder. They really just don’t like each other!!! :)

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4 StackingCash April 30, 2010 at 10:54 am

Lately I’ve been shopping because I’m bored. I still try to keep my shopping mostly on needs, but lately the wants have been tempting me. Thanks for making me realize why I’ve been shopping a tad too much. I need to find a hobby to keep me from shopping. Hopefully an affordable hobby :)

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5 Anne Dorko April 30, 2010 at 2:05 pm

Personally, I don’t like “shopping” (in the usual sense of the word) just to shop. It’s frustrating to go look at things when I know 1) I shouldn’t spend money and 2) I’ll probably never use what I buy. The biggest shopping problem I had was with eating out, although I have gotten that under control this year for both the sake of my wallet and my waistline.

However, I do have an abnormal shopping vice. I tend to pick up domain names like a disease. It feels so inexpensive at the time, $7 for a year, so I just do it because of the potential of the domain. Then suddenly I’m owing over $400 a year on domain names I don’t even use! It sucks. About a month ago I dropped 40 out of my 80+ in an effort to save money, so at least I’m making an effort to pare it down. I also instated a new rule: I have to develop the site BEFORE I buy the domain.

Other than that, I will usually save up or if I have extra money around I use it on computer software or photography equipment. Shopping for me isn’t really a habit, but an “omg I just found out about this thing that sounds SO FREAKING AWESOME”. More of an specific impulse shopper. ;)

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6 J. Money April 30, 2010 at 2:08 pm

HAH! Are we related??? I’m going to tell you a secret right now and it might make you feel better – I spent $1300+ on GoDaddy last year!!! I am a domain fool too! haha…I actually just signed up for their “VIP club” or whatever it’s called – $90/year but gives you 30-60% off almost all of their domains – even renewals ;) I have some hosting plans in there too and stuff, but still – over ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS in mostly domain names? sad.

Maybe we should form some sort of club? :) We can trade names and stuff! haha…

*UPDATE* I have bought 2 more domains since I last posted this…somebody stop me!

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7 Stella April 30, 2010 at 2:10 pm

Hmm–I can totally relate. Especially to the part where you’re spending money equates to getting hot chicks (only it’s hot guys in my case!). I also shop as a “hobby” and I need to get out of that habit. I also need to stop equating “cheap” with “value.” It makes more sense to spend a bit more for a jacket or top I’ll wear a lot vs. less on a bunch of clothes that will just sit in my closet.

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8 Yana April 30, 2010 at 3:30 pm

I shop when I need to, and also make purchases when I run into a deal on something I will be buying anyway. My least favorite shopping is for clothing or shoes for myself, and it is what I do the least of. My favorite shopping is online, where I can pay no tax and no shipping. I like purses, wallets and jewelry. I haven’t bought a new wallet in years though, because the last one I got (leather) for $15 is still like new. I’m currently carrying a $15 purse as well, but I also like expensive purses and have several. I considered buying a Coach purse online, but called and found out they charge sales tax. That was the primary factor in my not buying it. Obviously, it was not a necessary purchase anyway.

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9 WR April 30, 2010 at 3:57 pm

Good post.
Our relationship with money is 100% emotional. When we get our ‘head straight’, the money will largely take care of itself.

Now, I could pontificate on this all day long but I have to answer your question. When do “I” shop?

I tend to make my poor buying decisions when I am overwhelmed or depressed. I am usually fairly calm and happy but when the workload piles up or I get hit with bad news, I find myself making purchases that I would otherwise avoid. I am very lucky to have married a financial genius, she is stylishly frugal and keeps me grounded. Especially when the urge to spend money on something unnecessary comes calling. Luckily as well, these bouts are few and far between and I have not (yet) made a monstrous mistake.

If you see me in Home Depot looking forlorn, please escort me out before I get to the tool barn.

-WR

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10 Mysti May 1, 2010 at 9:41 am

I have blogged about this myself.

I am a “boredom” shopper for the nickel and dime things. New throw pillows for the sofa, a new shirt for the kids. The little things that add up. The bigger purchases are usually related to major disasters in our lives. Like the new TV we bought when our twin daughters died.

Hubby tends to want to spend because “we deserve it for working hard.” I am the one who pulls in the reigns there.

At this point in our lives, we are still very in debt and trying to get out. Couple this with the fact that we have been married for 12.5 yrs, and our furniture and such are wearing out (from time, pets, kids) and now we are wanting to do major shopping….but can’t!!!

But honestly….one of my weaknesses…..is Christmas decor. I love buying ornaments and new trees to put all over the house!

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11 LeanLifeCoach May 1, 2010 at 11:20 am

Generally I do not go to a store unless I am literally in need of something. Once there, it is just a matter of falling or avoiding the occasional impulse purchase.

However, we all go through these stages right. I too recall shopping till I dropped.

Curious, how many times a year are you allowed to replenish your mad money? Do you have an annual limit?

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12 Anne Dorko May 1, 2010 at 12:12 pm

Haha!! Yeah, we most definitely should form a club… and 2 more domains since then? You are worse than me ;)

I didn’t know they had a VIP thing – I don’t think I spend quite enough money with them to make it worthwhile that’s cool to know! But I’m a big GoDaddy fan, that’s for sure.

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13 lenciB May 1, 2010 at 3:19 pm

I shop when I’m with friends hanging out….or when I set a date to go shopping for myself. I’m a dork!

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14 Donna Freedman May 2, 2010 at 12:06 am

I went broke five years ago waiting for a divorce and supporting myself and a disabled adult daughter. Now I’m out of debt, have an EF and am saving for the future (including funding a Roth IRA).
Until very recently I was paranoid about spending a dime. Just couldn’t get it through my head that it was OK to, say, buy a winter coat to replace my 25-year-old, fraying-at-the-seams outerwear. (I wrote a column about this for MSN Money, http://tinyurl.com/3ahocvv)
I generally avoid shopping at all unless I need a specific item — and then I try to get it through thrift stores or on sale (preferably with coupons) at a regular store. But I’ve recently had the chance to make several trips to visit family and friends, and found that when I’m on the road it’s a little easier to open up my wallet. Not too wide, mind you — I still love coupons! — but I enjoy sharing a meal with people or buying my daughter or my nephew a treat.
The important thing is that I really *don’t* feel deprived. All of my needs and some of my wants are being met quite handily. If it felt like penury, I’d stop living this way because I now have a choice. For me, that means choosing to save money wherever I can so I have more to spend on things I want.

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15 Jenn May 2, 2010 at 11:08 am

Shopping is the least interesting thing I can think of to do. A normal week means Saturday mornings spent getting groceries, filling up the gas tank and straight back home. That’s it most weeks. Really. We only shop when something is broken and unrepairable, completely worn out, or the kids have outgrown something. We don’t even budget for clothing since we spend so infrequently. There are lots of hand me downs from cousins, we hit the consignment and thrift shops for the rest. Each gets one new trendy clothing item at Christmas (and you can bet it was bought on sale).

By choice we live waaaaay below our income on what many would see as a really tight budget, but from our perspective skipping cable, trendy wardrobes and the lastest in electronics means we live in a lovely home, have no debts, take great vacations with our kids and plan to retire in our mid 50s.It’s all about figuring out where your personal priorities are and not worrying about what your friends and neighbors are spending on. We buy used vehicles with cash. I expect we will never in our lives buy a new car and are completely fine with that. It’s not a priority to us. If we had more money that we knew what to do with then maybe I would get a new car, but since like most people can’t have everything, the first few years of a vehicle’s life is something we’re prepared to skip.

I love that our kids don’t immediately ask for everything their friends have. If they really want something, they check their savings. If they’re short they ask if there are any extra chores they can do to earn money, or they put the item on their birthday or Christmas list and are prepared to wait for it. Expecting it to be provided by us just for asking isn’t even on their minds.

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16 MyFinancialObjectives May 2, 2010 at 7:58 pm

Nice topic! I spend money.. hmnm… pretty much at random. Usually I will be out because I NEED something, and then I’ll just happen to buy something else while I’m there. I’m a pretty big culprit for impulse buying! Though lately all of my ‘buying” has gone to “buying” back more of my own money in the form of paying off my loans quicker, therefore reducing the total interest I will pay, thus resulting in more total money for you know who! Get that?? :)

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17 Nate St. Pierre May 3, 2010 at 12:52 pm

Dude, I STILL don’t buy anything. I can’t remember the last time I bought anything that wasn’t specifically needed. Then again, that’s ’cause I have no money, haha :)

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18 DC May 3, 2010 at 1:55 pm

Whatup J!

I like this post because it made me think about when I spend cash, and here are a few things I realized:

1) When I am nervous about something
-In high school went shopping night before ACT

2) When I feel like I’m “investing” in what I’m buying
-Just got hired for an internship at a great company, making double my salary right now. Let’s just say I will be spending the benjamins on some dress clothes to look a little more presentable :P

3) Random
-Everyone needs a night out on the town sometime, right??

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19 MPP May 3, 2010 at 5:33 pm

I didn’t notice until today that you had linked me on your site. Thanks for the link love! You feel free to do that any time, now. ;) Btw sorry I didn’t get meet you the other day at the DC-HH. Perhaps the next one I’ll be able to come.

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20 J. Money May 3, 2010 at 5:49 pm

@MPP – Yeah, would be lovely to meet you in real life :) We keep missing each other.

@ everyone else – LOVE seeing all your thoughts on this! Pretty cool how we all act differently and know what’s best (or not) for us :) Thx for sharing!

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21 Darren May 12, 2010 at 1:44 pm

Nice post. I mostly spend money for basic necessities, but I also spend when out with friends, usually eating!

Similar to the topic of this post, I’m reading a book that mentions how people sometimes spend based on emotions. But they suggested asking yourself some thought provoking questions when you’re about to make purchases, and I’m trying to implement them in my life too.

1) Is the purchase going to provide fulfillment in proportion to the amount of time and money it cost to buy it? If my watch costs $100, and I make $10 an hour, it cost 10 hours of my life to acquire that watch. I better believe that the watch is worth 10 hours of my life!

2) Is this purchase in line with my values? A more insightful/philosophical question I guess.

3) What would this purchase look like if I didn’t have to work anymore? This assumes that most people are working mainly for a paycheck, and they’re trading their life for money.

For some, asking these questions may seem like it’s sucking the fun out of life, but I think it might curb some bad spending habits!

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22 J. Money May 14, 2010 at 10:37 pm

Yeah dude, great questions to think about! Anything that gets you to stop and think for a few extra seconds before splurging away is def. good with me :) even if we still go through with it!

Thanks for sharing.

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23 Andrew October 10, 2010 at 7:53 pm

I used to love spending money on clothes and i mean actively enjoy owning new clothes. But recently I’ve found myself feeling that if I’m not spending money on a) something I truly truly love or b) an investment purchase, then I’m wasting it. I’ll happily spend £200 (yep, I’m in London) on a pair of shoes but that’s only because I’ll wear them for years and they’re fabulous. Check out Jeffery-West people!

As for the investing… I have a slight Disney collection fetish going. But, I’m hoping that they will be an investment. For example, I’ll buy more of the DVDs/Blu-Rays that come out of the vault, then sell them when they’re in the fault for 3 times what I paid for them. Recently, I bought the Toy Story Collection toys (£50 each and 11 of them…with more released next year), but I love them and they could be worth something in the future. People say I don’t get any enjoyment out of them because they’re all in their sealed boxes and haven’t been opened nor will they be opened. Who knows though right… if they’re worthless in the future, I still love them.

This is rather rambling of me… I’m about quality rather than quantity e.g. I needed a new mirror. I could’ve bought a cheap pine-framed one for £20, but instead I bought an awesome one from Portobello Road for £180. It could be worth something in the future, but it’s seriously immense. It’s an investment because I won’t have to buy another in the future, except for a different room perhaps lol. I love finding things that could make money in the future. I hope to God that my instincts on my so called investments are correct!

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24 J. Money October 10, 2010 at 10:44 pm

Haha, I like the way you think sir. I’m def. going down that road of “quality over quantity” too – esp the more I get into minimalism and that kind stuff. Thanks for stopping by!

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