• Tuesday, Nov 19, 2019
  • Last Update : 11:21 am

Time to rethink our spending habits

  • Published at 01:29 am May 24th, 2019
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Are you an emotional spender?

Rikal wanted to break away from her boyfriend; she couldn’t handle it anymore. The chauvinism, she felt it was killing her inside.

She always wanted to be financially and emotionally independent, but was frightened to be alone. But finally, when she couldn’t take it anymore, they parted ways and she felt an intense urge to go into a store and get something new.

Any new thing would do, just to start her life new again.

Rikal ended up spending Tk11,000 to buy a shirt, jacket, belt, and earrings -- all of it at a shop where Rikal and her boyfriend used to shop together.

“I just wanted to believe that I can do things alone and spend my money.” She said it made her feel confident and powerful. But after a few moments of buying them, she felt completely depleted and less confident than ever before. The act of spending gives a feeling of power, pleasure, and self-worth.Unfortunately, these feelings are temporary, and spending money is a questionable measurement of validating one’s own confidence and self-worth.

The clothes, belts, and earrings are lifeless; it is contrary to help someone with money, where there is no reciprocity, they are just materials. Eventually, Rikal realized her spending spree had put her in financial trouble again, and she had to ask her boyfriend again to help her out.

You may not relate to Kiral’s story, but it still might produce a ring of familiarity in your ears. Most of us often spend money in situations only to realize afterwards that it was not worth it. The experience we expected didn’t deliver. No wonder that “buyer’s remorse” is such a common expression.

The reason we often get into trouble with money is because we tell ourselves the story that we think about how we spend our money. But we don’t. When it comes to money, we are often acting on our feelings.

If there is one takeaway from Kiral’s story, it is that spending is emotional.

This is the critical point to remember. Therefore, your chances are excellent, when you revise your decisions twice or thrice before actually buying a product.

Going to a supermarket without any plans and telling yourself “I will know what to buy once I enter the shop” is usually a bad idea. Like many addictions, there are people who have a compulsive spending problem; where impulse buying becomes a habit.

Then there are people who have a competitive spending habit, just to keep up with the social circles; here, validation is the goal rather than the utility.

There are people who spend, just to get a favour or a special benefit from others. There are people who are spending out of revenge, often carried out quietly and privately, in a form of self-indulgence to express anger or resentment. Often, neglected teenagers from wealthy parents indulge in this specific behaviour.

If you see your spending habits are creating chaos in your life, whether small or big, it’s time to

give it a thought. Do you feel like going shopping, whether in person or on the internet, to escape

feeling bored, empty, angry, or scared?

Does it often feel like you have spent impulsively and shouldn’t have? Do you feel like compromising your life or leisure to adjust to your shopping debts? Has there been any occasion when you feel guilty, ashamed, or embarrassed about your purchases?

It’s time to start spending consciously. If spending is emotional, and it isn’t an act out of joy, it is time to rethink our lives rather than going in a downward spiral.

It’s time to start spending consciously. If spending is emotional, and it isn’t an act out of joy,

it is time to rethink our lives rather than going in a downward spiral

Putting a ceiling on our everyday spending, and evaluating our money decisions over a certain amount and sleeping over it, we will soon form a conscious spending habit.


Touhid Kamal uses anthropology to learn more on micro-cultures and human behaviour, and is a UX researcher and team culture builder. He can be reached at kamaltouhid@gmail.com.