If you've never heard of "revenge spending," you might be wasting tons of money doing it!
What is revenge spending?
Revenge spending is when you've had your budget locked down tight with regard to spending. You've only been focused on the essentials. Then suddenly, you go crazy with spending once you get a little extra cash.
When are you at most risk for revenge spending?
Revenge spending most frequently happens when you come out of a time when you've really been watching every penny. Maybe you had a job loss or a reduction in hours and your income dropped for a while, then you got a new job or the hours went back up - and so did your income. Or maybe you were in a pandemic lockdown and weren't spending on stuff like restaurants or shopping because they just weren't options.
What does revenge spending look like?
Maybe you get a new job, or a raise. Lockdown ended. You now have a second income. Whatever the relief looks like, once your income goes back up, or whatever was preventing you from spending goes away, then it's like the floodgates were opened! You start buying things left and right, feeling that you deserve it. You sacrificed, and now you don't need to anymore.
After all, the crisis is over, right?
Revenge spending can become its own personal finance crisis.
Slam on the breaks, my friend. If you go wild, you could do some serious damage to your bank account. The crisis might be over, but if you overspend, you could put yourself into a whole different crisis. Credit cards start getting used more because you start spending more of your cash ("cash" also includes your debit card). Your rule of only eating out twice a month foes out the window. New clothes start appearing in your closet at a rapid rate, and super cute (but expensive) boots show up in your closet even when you didn't really need them.
The next thing you know, your monthly cash flow is strapped and you've got either bigger or brand new credit card bills. Your stress level starts spiking again.
Here's how to reign it in, and fast!
- Return it if you can. Still have the tags and the receipts from that impulse purchase? Back to the store it goes! We don't want store credit here, we want a REFUND. Put.The. Money. Back. In. Your. Account.
- Earmark a small amount in your monthly budget for "blow money." If you've been avoiding any and all non-essential spending and suddenly you can do it again, put a dollar amount to it. That way you've budgeted for some fun spending and it's already built in to your monthly plan. You've given yourself permission to let a little loose, but with some guidelines.
- Switch to cash spending / spending envelopes. This gives you a clear place to stop. When the cash in that envelope is gone, then you're done spending in that area for the week or month, whichever period you choose to go with. It also serves as a very visual reminder that your funds are shrinking - one thing it's hard to visualize when you're spending with a card.
- Unsubscribe to store emails & alerts. Do you get push notifications on your phone from the Target app, or from other stores? Shut them off. Unsubscribe from promotional emails from various stores. Guess what - you can always go online and look for coupon codes if you NEED something. This will just help curb random, uncontrolled purchases.
- Remove your saved credit card information from your phone and computer. If you've said "yes" to the little pop-ups that ask if you want to save your credit/debit card information to make it easier to purchase things in the future, go find that in your "settings" area and delete it. This "time-saving feature" often makes it easier to overspend and buy impulse items that kill your budget. So in the end, it's not as convenient as you thought.
- Sleep on it. Setting some time to think on those purchases can really help. For me, this is often overnight. When I sleep on it, I double check my monthly budget and current spending, and I give myself some time away to think through the purchase. If it still seems like a really good idea the next day, then I might pull the trigger. Often though, I'll decide that I really didn't need that thing as much as I thought, and I'll come up with a bunch of better, more responsible uses for that money.
It's important to recognize revenge spending for what it is, and to stop it before it gets out of control. You can do it!