Trigger #1: Emotions
Buying things makes you feel better until you receive your statement. Then you feel horrible, triggering the need to spend more -- it's a vicious cycle.
The solution: Track everything
Take the time to write down all your purchases. You should already be doing this as part of your budget, but this time note how you felt when you bought them. Were you happy, sad or bored? Making a note of your moods can help you identify your emotional trigger and learn to avoid emotional spending.
Trigger #2: Sales, sales, sales
You don't need it, but the price was so good! It's the thrill of the hunt that motivates you, even if you never wear or use your sale items.
The solution: Talk to a friend and wait before you buy
Whenever you feel the urge to buy something, call a friend who will reason with you and help you avoid buying. Just ensure it's not a friend who will enable your spending habits.
If you can't reach a friend because you're shopping online at two in the morning then wait 24 hours before you buy. In fact, why not avoid online shopping entirely?
Trigger #3: Keeping up with the Joneses (or your girlfriends)
There's always one friend who makes a little more than you do. When you hang out together she spends and you find yourself following suit so you don't look like the poor relation. Soon you're hauling out the credit card just to keep up.
The solution: Don't put temptation in your purse, and talk to your friend
If you know you have a habit of whipping out the credit card when you're shopping in a group, then avoid the temptation by leaving the cards at home. Travel with cash, knowing that once you spend it, that's it. Note: This doesn't mean reaching for the debit card instead.
Also, talk to your friend and explain that you love hanging out with her but would prefer to do it in a way that saves both of you money. Who knows -- she might be overspending too.
Trigger #4: Media influences
Blogs, magazines, ads -- all are packed with pretty pictures tempting you to spend. And really, do you need another pair of black heels?
The solution: Out of sight, out of mind
Unsubscribe from blogs and cut back on the magazines that encourage you to shop. Remove temptation from your house and your computer. Think of it as out of sight, money in your pocket.
Avoiding your spending triggers means taking a good, hard look at yourself and changing ingrained behaviours. You may not like what you see, but by knowing and acknowledging those triggers, you'll be able to overcome them and avoid racking up debt.