Timely Tips to Tame Your Spending Triggers

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Acting on strong emotions can result in financial trouble for even the most committed savers. Unplanned spending due to anger, stress, boredom, or another “fill in the blank” emotion can keep you from achieving your financial goals of early retirement, homeownership, or paying off credit card debt. But, there’s hope for those that turn to retail therapy after a tough day, month, or year. Recognizing a money problem is the first step to solving it. Follow these tips to tame your spending triggers and keep more cash in your bank account.

Begin by identifying the emotion that’s leading you to open your wallet. Then, select an alternative behavior to deal with that emotion.


Tight work deadlines, financial worries, and relationship difficulties can weigh heavily on your confidence and your emotions. Instead of heading to your favorite store for relief…

  • Use tech to calm your anxiety. Experience guided meditation for free with mobile apps like Calm or Simple Habit.
  • Pamper yourself. Treating yourself well doesn’t mean you need to spend money. A soothing bubble bath, playtime with your pet, or another activity that makes you smile can help melt away tensions.
  • Make a change. Take one step to reduce the point of stress in your life. For example, if you’re always faced with tight deadlines at work, talk to your boss about adjusting project due dates or ask for help from a coworker.


Browsing the Internet out of boredom can lead to a full online shopping cart in a hurry. Close your browser and…

  • Play an outdoor game you enjoyed as a child.
  • Enter a new world by opening that bestseller sitting unread on your e-reader.
  • Challenge yourself with puzzles like word searches, sudokus, or crosswords. Many are available online for free.


An argument with a coworker, friend, or romantic partner can send you into an emotional tailspin. Step away from the situation and…

  • Vent to a trusted friend. If a relationship is the source of repeated money triggers, consult a professional therapist.
  • Work it out – no gym membership required. Save money and check out free exercise DVDs from your local library, or relax with yoga videos available for free on YouTube.
  • Journal it. Writing down your emotions can help reduce their intensity.

Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)

Feel the need to keep up with the Joneses? FOMO isn’t just reserved for special events or occasions. It can also be about tangible items. Here’s a better way to deal with FOMO.

  • Create a gratitude list. Keep a copy in your wallet and one next to your computer.
  • Use FOMO as a motivation for a new financial goal. Save for the particular item or experience you covet.
  • If Mr. or Mrs. Jones possesses your coveted item, talk to them about it. Listen to how much they enjoy or dislike the item. You might find that you’ve romanticized the item which can lessen your desire to actually obtain it.

When you tame your spending triggers, you regain control of your financial destiny. The next time a wave of emotions try to push you to spend, pull out a copy of these tips and make a better choice for you and your finances. Pretty soon, emotional spending will be a thing of the past.

Generations’ Online Banking can help you discover areas of overspending and establish a healthy budget. Login to your account and click one of the options from the top menu (Net Worth, Budget, Spending, Trends, or Debts) to see your spending habits over time.



Written by Freelance Personal Finance Writer, Tracy Scott