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How often do you notice a burning desire to buy something without any need or rational reason? How often does a trip to the store or a visit to a marketplace turn into an unplanned expense?  

The problem may not be that you have a problem with financial literacy or lack of willpower, but in your emotional or physical state or even in your environment. These 5 factors influence our behavior and may cause us to spend more.


Many people have probably heard that hunger drives us to buy more, but it’s usually only talked about in the context of buying groceries or ready-to-eat foods. But a study by Alison Jing Xu of the University of Minnesota found that hungry people are willing to spend more than just on food. In one experiment, researchers asked 81 department store shoppers to show receipts and talk about their mood and how hungry they were. According to the survey, hungry people bought more nonfood items and spent 60% more overall than those who felt full.

There’s ghrelin, the hunger hormone, involved. It can affect our impulsivity, including pushing us to buy emotionally rather than rationally.

Be aware of your condition. Don’t go shopping hungry: eat or snack before you go to the store.

Stress, Anxiety, and Boredom

Space organization expert Shira Gill notes that the desire to consume can be triggered by negative emotions when we are upset, feeling lonely or depressed. The joy we feel about a new purchase helps distract us and lift our spirits.

The problem is, it doesn’t last long. Shopping brings temporary relief, as research confirms: researchers at the University of Missouri found that people who want to own an item are usually more happy while waiting to buy it. That feeling of happiness fades as soon as they own the item. So going shopping can lift your spirits, but not for long: after a couple of hours or days, the feeling of joy will pass or become much less intense, and you will want to buy something else.

Anxiety isn’t the best companion in decision-making. When we’re anxious, it’s harder for us to think through the consequences of our actions.

Take a pause before you buy. Postpone shopping until you’re in a calm mood. Before you buy something you don’t need right now, give yourself time to think-a day or two, or in the case of expensive items, a week or longer. Let the emotions subside, and you weigh the need to spend. There is a good chance that the thing you already don’t like, or you’ll stop wanting to buy it so badly.

In order not to make a purchase for the sake of “quick joy,” think about what else could bring you positive emotions. Maybe it’s meeting with friends, talking on the phone, playing at Bet20, taking a walk in a blooming park, or going to the movies.

Parkinson’s Law

When a person gets a pay raise, it seems rational to start saving more, but the opposite is often true. We tend to increase our spending in proportion to the increase in salary. This behavior is called Parkinson’s second law, and it goes something like this: “Spending increases with income. It’s also called lifestyle inflation. It’s “simple”: when wages rise, we want to spend more, because we can afford it, we want to reward ourselves and improve our standard of living and quality of life. That’s not always a bad thing; after all, we make money to live better. But it’s important to adhere to the basic rules of financial literacy: expenses should not exceed income, purchases should be considered, and you should have money left over for savings.

If your income has increased, you can increase your spending proportionately and remember the importance of saving. The “Pay Yourself First” rule can help here: When you receive your paycheck, first set aside a certain amount for savings, and then distribute the remaining amount to expenses.

Frequent Fee Payments

This point is more likely to apply to freelancers and self-employed, who are not paid twice a month like salaried employees, but more often, sometimes as they complete orders. A recent study showed that earning income frequently affects our perception of personal wealth. It’s easier for us to spend more because we’ll get more tomorrow, which means we don’t have to worry today about whether we’ll have enough money before the next paycheck.

Plan your budget. Keep a record of your receipts, your income and your expenses. Knowing how much money you make and how much you have available can help you decide whether a purchase is appropriate or not. It’s also a good idea to calculate the cost of using the item before you buy it, that is, compare the price of the item to how often you will wear it.

Friends and Children

There are studies that show that women eat more in company at lunch than they do alone. It turns out that something similar happens when you go shopping with girlfriends. A survey in the UK found that 62% of women spend more in the stores when they are not shopping alone, with the average bill going up by 37 pounds. That’s because two-thirds of those surveyed were more willing to buy clothes after getting a friend’s approval. 

Another reason for increased spending in companies may be that this way we spend more time in the mall, go around more stores, and try on more things. And we also watch what girlfriends are buying and may want to buy the same things, even if we hadn’t originally thought about buying them.

Another study shows that parents spend on average $46 more when they go shopping with their children. On the one hand, parents in this case can buy something unplanned for their children (parents are sure to understand how this happens). On the other hand, while shopping with children, some of the attention is distracted by watching them and it becomes more difficult to think carefully about the purchase, compare prices in stores and make a reasonable choice. Sometimes in such situations, you just want to get out of the store as soon as possible.

Shop alone. Plan time for your shopping and, if possible, don’t go to the store unnecessarily with your children and shopaholic girlfriends. As a last resort, make a shopping list in advance and determine an acceptable budget.

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