4 Triggers That Make You Overspend

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4 Triggers that Make You Overspend
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By Donna Fuscaldo

It's no secret that our country has a spending problem: both our government and citizens.

"Compulsive shopping is becoming a global problem," says Terrence Daryl Shulman, founder and director of The Shulman Center for Compulsive Theft, Spending & Hoarding. "There are statistics that estimate that anywhere between 6 to 10 percent of Americans have a chronic shopping problem."

While it's hard to guide lawmakers on Capitol Hill on how to curb their spending, there are some triggers that lead consumers to overspend. Whether it's out of boredom or to relieve some stress, over spending can be stopped. Here's how:

Trigger 1: You're Bored

It's easier than ever to hop online when we are bored-from no matter where we are-and find distractions. For some that means checking emails, perusing social media, getting news updates, and watching videos. Others shop.

According to Andrea Bonior, author of The Friendship Fix, boredom or feeling stagnant is a common trigger for compulsive shoppers.

"The idea is, 'if I buy this, I'll get some excitement' or 'maybe a whole new wardrobe will improve the quality of my life,' " says Bonior. While people get an initial high from buying a new pair of shoes, Bonior warns the feeling doesn't last long. To combat the need to shop when bored, experts say people need to identify that is a trigger and be ready to fill their downtime with other activities.

Trigger 2: You Feel Like You Lack Control

For many people, feeling out of control can lead to anxiety and to help regain control they turn to spending, according to Kit Yarrow, author of the upcoming book Decoding the New Consumer Mind.

"Stress is part of all change and so even positive things like having a baby or getting married can cause people to want to shop more to feel like the uncertain future is more under control, "she says. %VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%"This also happens when people are working out a tough problem--they sometimes get an absent-minded sense of relief from shopping."

She suggests people try other activities like taking a walk, chatting with a friend or organizing a closet to regain some control.

"The key is to feel proactive and in control. I especially like organizing and sorting because that same empowering brain action of making choices is involved."

Trigger 3: You're From a Family of Shoppers

For many compulsive shoppers, the need to purchase items is rooted in their family history, claims Shulman.

Family issues like unresolved losses or trauma or growing up in a family where over shopping was normal or where "deprivation of material or emotional nurturing was present" can lead to overspending tendencies, he says.

For compulsive shoppers who have issues with their upbringing, it may be a good idea to avoid stores, online shopping and late-night infomercial watching at all costs, at least in the early stages of treating this condition, he says.

"We also need a good support system of friends, family members and recovery buddies to talk to and stay accountable to. We also need healthier activities to fill the void that will be left from stopping shopping."

Trigger 4: Insecurity

The idea of having to "keep up with the Joneses" resonates with too many people in this country and drains our budgets.

According to Bonior, the insecurity can materialize in different ways. For some, it's all about having what their friends have while others fear missing out on a deal. "Whatever the reason they are trying to fill that deficit," says Bonior.

One way to prevent that trigger from turning into a binge shopping spree is to set spending limits. Only having cash on hand can prevent overspending along with freezing credit cards to fight the urge to use them.

"Sometimes the first step is just being able to look at the bills and see the reality of the situation," says Bonior. "It's very hard to break the cycle unless you have a reality check."

19 PHOTOS
17 Tricks Stores Use to Make You Spend More Money
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4 Triggers That Make You Overspend

A big, bold "SALE" sign helps get people in the store, where they are likely to buy non-sale items.

Once you enter, there's the shopping cart. This invention was designed in the late 1930s to help customers make larger purchases more easily.

 

In supermarkets, high margin departments like floral and fresh baked goods are placed near the front door, so you encounter them when your cart is empty and your spirits are high.    
Flowers and baked goods also sit near the front of stores because their appealing smell activates your salivary glands, making you more likely to purchase on impulse.

Supermarkets like to hide dairy products and other essentials on the back wall, forcing you to go through the whole store to reach them.

 

    

Once customers start walking through a store's maze of aisles, they are conditioned to walk up and down each one without deviating.

Most stores move customers from right to left. This, combined with the fact that America drives on the right, makes people more likely to purchase items on the right-hand side of the aisle.

Anything a store really wants customers to buy is placed at eye level. Particularly favored items are highlighted at the ends of aisles.
 

There's also kid eye level. This is where stores place toys, games, sugary cereal, candy, and other items a kid will see and beg his parents to buy.
Sample stations and other displays slow you down while exposing you to new products.
Stores also want items to be in easy reach. Research shows that touching items increases the chance of a purchase.

Color affects shoppers, too. People are drawn into stores by warm hues like reds, oranges, and yellows, but once inside cool colors like blues and greens encourage them to spend more.

Hear that music? Studies show that slow music makes people shop leisurely and spend more. Loud music hurries them through the store and doesn't affect sales. Classical music encourages more expensive purchases.
Store size matters, too. In crowded places, people spend less time shopping, make fewer purchases (planned and impulsive), and feel less comfortable
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Stores not only entice you with sales, they also use limited-time offers to increase your sense of urgency in making a purchase.
The most profitable area of the store is the checkout line. Stores bank on customers succumbing to the candy and magazine racks while they wait.
Finally, there is the ubiquitous "valued shopper" card. This card gives you an occasional deal in exchange for your customer loyalty and valuable personal data.
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