This 1 Question Will Change Your Spending Habits

A Buddha in the Rain Creative Commons License photo credit: h.koppdelaney

When I was a child I was very curious. I always asked questions about things. One show I used to watch called “The Adventures of Pete & Pete” had a great episode. In it one of the characters, Ellen, kept asking the question “Why?” As kids we’re always inquisitive. What happened to that? Why don’t we ask ourselves that question more often?

I’m a big believer that everyone can control themselves. Granted sometimes it’s very hard (ex. drug addiction). But mentally,

  • You decide what to think
  • You decide if you’re going to get upset if someone cuts you off in traffic
  • You decide if someone talking bad about you is going to piss you off (excuse my French)
  • You decide if a little rain is going to ruin your day (Literally and figuratively)
  • You are the master of your mind

No one can control it unless you let them.

Next time you decide you use a credit card to buy an outfit because it looks good on you, but you don’t have the cash, ask yourself “Why?”

  • Why do you keep buying clothes that you don’t need?
  • Is there something inside of you that says you need a new outfit to feel good?
  • Why do you need to spend money to feel good?

That’s a bad outlet to get a high. Instead, learn to love what you have. Make a list of things you’re happy about. Make a list of things you love. Make a list of things you’re proud of.

In the end I think it’s boredom that causes this. If you weren’t shopping what would you be doing? Watching TV; talking on the phone; surfing the net. While these things are entertaining to do, they are just that, entertainment. Find a hobby that will be more fulfilling. Perhaps sewing?

If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, or are heavily in debt ask yourself why? Be honest with yourself and don’t blame others. If your significant other spends all of the money ask why? Why don’t you talk to them about it? Why don’t you compromise? Why don’t you say no? Get to the root of the problem with you, then you can solve the problem you have with others

Just ask why?

Do you ask why?

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeff @ sustainablelifeblog

Man, I used to watch that show all the time and had totally forgotten about it until now. Great pointing out that the “hobbies” people currently have are more entertainment and not fulfilling at all.

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Kevin

Thanks, I loved that show. *sings*Memories*sings*

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Hollis Colquhoun

A person should think of his/her money as a result of hard work and therefore a precious resource. There needs to be a conscious connection between thought and money. Things are just things, not the essence of happiness or true success. People can be control of their choices if they want to be. Very good article

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Kevin

Thank you, you make a great point. People need to stop basing success off of how many new items they can gather.

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Jon DeGroff

Great post, Kevin!
You’re absolutely right-I wish that everyone would ask that question.
This aspect of each our lives would be much better.

Thanks-

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Kevin

Thanks, I’m glad people agree with me.

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Red

Great post! One of my coworkers was recently talking about how realizing we are in control of our lives is so empowering. Once you realize that you are the one who controls your mood, your destination, you really start making positive changes. Examining our bad habits is the best way to break the cycle.

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Kevin

Exactly, you have the power to make your whole life a big happy bubble. If you want to, but you have to really want it.

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Brandon

Awesome questions, ones in which we really do need to stop and ask ourselves. I will always make purchases based out of necessity first; then, when I know I have the finances to bring forth more value into my life through something else, I will buy it.

Always thinking about your purchases, even the most minute, for long periods of time, however, can be detrimental to your subconscious. As if you overanalyze a purchase made on a 33 cent avocado, you will be creating a message that you are financially coming from lack, which will be discouraging for that part of yourself that does want to start attracting more money into your life.

So…what I am trying to say is a loved the post, lol.

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Kevin

Thanks! Yea, you’re right about the overanalyzing. You need to come up with a base for when you need to analyze, which includes the price and how often you make a purchase. Like one avocado a day is fine, but what if you buy one every hour, then you probably need to ask yourself why, because there is an underlying problem then.

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Derek Sisterhen | Past Due Radio

Fantastic post, and excellent reference to the classic show.

You’re treading on difficult ground here by suggesting we’re responsible for ourselves. That’s not very American, you know.

A great book on personal accountability it John Miller’s “QBQ: The Question Behind the Question”. With personal accountability, we ask what can I do to resolve a situation rather than point fingers of blame elsewhere.

When you think about it, folks who are successful financially typically aren’t complainers.

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Kevin

That sounds like a good book, I’ll have to check it out. That’s a good point, when you stop complaining you can actually do something to change your situation.

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Kasey

You might think this sounds a little crazy, but one way to help yourself stop and ask “Why?” is to go back to basics when it comes to payment options. I’m talking about using personal checks.

I know, I can hear the scoffs. But it really is a good way be aware of how much your spending – both at the moment, and day by day.

Let ‘s be honest – lots of us stopped using a register when we started using debit cards.

PS – Great post Kevin, love the Pete and Pete reference. Now can you relate Double Dare to personal finance?

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everyday tips

Good post. For me, I am tempted to buy things. My problem is more with the part you mentioned at the beginning – the letting things bother me. I have a much harder time controlling my mind than my spending!

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everyday tips

Oops, typo! I meant to say that I am NOT tempted to buy things…

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Meg

Good question, but I would in turn question your suggestion re hobbies–sewing is expensive!!! It sounds economical to sew one’s own clothes, but it is next to impossible to make anything as cheaply as it can be purchased. Fabric, thread, buttons, facings, patterns–all add up to more than a ready-made item. Same thing with sweaters–I love to knit and crochet, but can only afford the dreariest cheap yarn, not the really beautiful ones I am attracted to and would want in a sweater I’d wear. Finally I had to stop making sweaters because I was making more than my family and I could wear and getting too costly.

Nonetheless, you do ask the right question–WHY?

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Kevin

yea I was just joking with the sewing. But I’m sure it is rewarding to know you made your own clothing.

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Chris

Many people have the problem in that they have to keep buying more things despite already having enough. One of the faults that consumerism encourages is teaching people not to be content with what they have or grateful for it. That so many people feel the need to have an explosion of clothes is a good example of this.

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Ryan D

Great insight. Makes so much sense and is so simple, yet?? Loved Pete & Pete back in the day!

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Barbara Friedberg

Thought provoking. Gook advice for introspection and delaying gratification.

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set2sin

I already subscribe, so I think highly if all of these writings!

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pam

why are we spending, do we really need it or just want it.

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The Money Paradise

I do agree with that being rationale while taking any financial or spending decision is very necessary. It is common habits of people that they often don’t think before spending. they think after spending often that they should have not spent money. it is better to think before and take a rationale decision about the prospective spending.

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Self Esteem for Kids

Thanks for posting this wonderful question… far from depressing me it validates something I was lucky enough to grow up with. All of my life we’ve grown trees and even at a very young age I realized I was doing something that wouldn’t come to maturity in my lifetime so I decided to enjoy my part of the journey in the life of a tree : ) Something I read that puts it into perspective: When asked what he wanted to be when he grew up a young person said “I want to be happy”. The response was “you didn’t understand the question”. And the reply was “you don’t understand life”. Again thanx for the insight question.

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Julie @ Freedom 48

I’ve never asked “why?”, but I do always ask “Do I need it? Do I want it? Can it wait?”
A simple “why?” is a heck of a lot easier though!

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Jules@Fat Guy,Skinny Wallet

Awesome question! I try, but not nearly often enough!!

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