Don’t Let Impulsive Overspending Put You on the Naughty List this Christmas!

In Impulsive shopping by Yuliya Richard

Do you want to avoid being silly with your credit card this season? Follow these Christmas Spending Tips to keep your impulsive shopping in check and enjoy the benefits of being nice and relaxed rather than naughty and broke.


Have you started your Christmas shopping? Are you excited by all the deals, the buy-one-get-one-free options, and special free delivery offers, along with the whole wonderful experience of shopping with Christmas music and glittering trees? As you buy Christmas gifts for others do you often feel inspired to get a pressie or two for yourself, and maybe just one new outfit for the family gathering? Do sparkly new wine glasses, a slick electric can-opener or fun decorative fluff call your name, even though you will never use them again and will complain to your friends about the piles of stuff building up in your home?

It can be enjoyable to spend time shopping for friends and family as a way of showing them how much you love and appreciate them. In our society, we long ago reconciled this holiday season by giving yourself permission to shop. There are so many helpful websites and shop assistants to help you have a great experience and reinforce the message: Keep on Spending. I recently even came across a blog “Christmas Gifts for Mental Health”. However, your mental health would really benefit from the message: It is Okay to Not Buy Stuff.

When your shopping style is impulsive or spontaneous, and is often last minute and on the credit card, this message ‘It is Okay to Not Buy Stuff’ can be especially important for your mental health. Feeling burdened to pay off that card in the New Year will have a negative impact on your wellbeing. Apparently 82% of us take up to 6 months to pay off those credit card purchases we made at Christmas and 3% never pay them off, according to Australian Securities and Investment Commissions (2017).

I think it is possible to have a great holiday season and to spend money on buying presents for yourself and others but to avoid impulsive overspending. Before you whip out your credit card and head to the shops, consider these tips.

1. We often regret impulsive purchases

Feeling happy for the 10 seconds after you’ve swiped your credit card in the store is not enough. You may notice the excitement is leaving just as you exit the store and the realisation of buying something overpriced or not really needed settles in. Pushing away the reality check and just heading to another store to give your credit card a workout will only delay the harsh impact of impulsive overspending a little longer. Impulsive purchasing is quite different from a premeditated approach to purchasing that uses deliberate thought about requirements, targeted research of goods and a comparison of retail prices.

2. Know your vulnerabilities and triggers when you overspend

Some research suggests that we overspend when we are angry. What about the emotion you experience when you overspend – is it joy or excitement? Or is this really a pick-me-up present because are you feeling a bit depressed? Learn what makes you feel vulnerable to overspending. For example, a fight with your partner or an unpleasant day when your boss was spiky with you might have caused unhappy emotions, and these triggered an impulsive overspend to combat the negativity. If you know what your triggers and vulnerabilities are, then develop a number of strategies to deal with them.

3. Commit to the right kind of plan and budget

You need a list. Write a list of Nice people you would like to buy a present for and allocate how much you would like to spend on each person. Set overall your budget and make it a finite figure. If you don’t shop online, simply withdraw that amount of cash and only spend that sum when buying presents.

It’s about connecting. Just make the Christmas commitment to have lunch with friends, or go to see a play or movie. Your bestie might appreciate a night out with you more than a hand cream and body lotion set or a handbag she will never use. If you prefer expensive gifts rather than spending time together, what does it tell you about your friendship?

You can be creative, even if money is tight. If you feel the need to bring something to your friend, you can bake it. Make cookies, organise dinners, write poems. Give your cousins vouchers of your time – for babysitting or to help them move house. It’s about being there for your friends and family.

4. Seriously, just make it about the kids

Commercialism aside, Christmas is a magical time, especially for kids. If you have big family gatherings you may simply choose to chip in for Christmas lunch and then just invest in presents for kids.

For the adults, what about investing in quality time together, going on adventures or connecting with nature?

It can be difficult to stop old habits, but you can decide to not go shopping today. Wait until you are clear about why you are doing it, feel sure it is not just a distraction or helping yourself to temporarily feel better, and have a plan of action.

Spreading joy and cheer will feel authentic if you are not accumulating debts that will last until next Christmas. Do you want to give yourself the best gift this year? Learn how to control your behaviour at all times, and that includes managing your Christmas party overeating, binge drinking and overspending, as well as dealing with debts and explosive anger outbursts. Check out our website and our program to help you to always be in control. Santa will reward you with achieving your long-term goals and feeling proud of yourself.