Easter brings out the urge to splurge
Philip Slade, Suncorp Behavioural Economist
29 March 2018
Now is the time when many of us squirrel away chocolate eggs ready for a weekend of splurging – or perhaps you’ve started the splurge early.
We know the occasional splurge is ok; after all there’s always Monday to get our eating habits back on track. But if the odd splurge becomes a regular habit, it could start to hurt us. And when splurging takes the form of designer accessories and expensive holidays instead of chocolate bunnies, it can start to eat into our good financial habits.
So why do we splurge?
Splurging is often an act of control. When things aren’t going well, or you feel as though your life isn’t in check, buying something a little extravagant gives you back that sense of control. We’re comforted by the rationale of ‘because I can’ or ‘because I deserve it’.
Splurging always contains an element of self-gratification, and usually indicates there’s something missing and you’re needing to gratify yourself in some way.
Think of the dieter who spends time restricting themselves until someone offers them a piece of chocolate cake – and then they eat the whole cake. They’re compensating for what they’ve been missing.
Splurging behaviours are also often concentrated to one area. For example, someone who spends a lot of money on a hobby. The splurging becomes a way for them to fuel their passion, build their sense of identity or feel part of a group.
So when does it start to become a problem?
If your unhealthy shopping habits are linked to your self-esteem, that may be a problem. Remember that splurging by definition means spending beyond what is usual. If you’re ‘splurging’ regularly, you may need to work on re-establishing healthy spending habits.
I often find there are three questions that help me keep the urge to splurge in check.
- Would I be doing this if no-one else was around?
- What would I advise my children or parents to do?
- How will I feel about this tomorrow?
Of course, the occasional splurge can be good for you. It’s just important to know how to keep it in check.
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