I can’t recall a time that I’ve been at a buffet and not overeaten. Even when I’ve been focused on dieting for my health I just can’t seem to resist – it requires more willpower than I’ve got.
Can you relate?
Every day we are immersed in an overwhelming spending buffet, where temptation abounds. Skilled marketers are adept at flooding us with cues to buy stuff and making that stuff seem really attractive.
Through budgeting, we aim to break the habit of buying stuff we can’t afford.
However, that is really difficult when we are immersed in temptation.
In Atomic Habits, James Clear writes that one technique to break a habit is to remove the cues. Without the cues the behaviour will not occur.
As soon as I read that tip it seemed familiar and obvious. If I want to lose weight don’t bring sweet treats into the house.
To reduce your spending, reduce the cues, especially the most tempting ones.
Unfortunately, we won’t be able to eliminate cues whilst also remaining engaged in society, but we can aim to reduce the most tempting cues for us.
The most obvious ways to reduce cues include:
- Unsubscribe from all marketing newsletters (not this one, it’s educational)
- Unfollow ‘influencers’ on social media
- Remove watch list notifications on apps like eBay, Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace
- Put a ‘No junk mail’ label on your letterbox
- Avoid shopping centres, and only go with a clear list (and budget)
To identify other personal cues use a journal to keep track of when you’ve bought something unplanned. Detail the cue and the explanation you used to justify the purchase. Then reflect on the changes you can make to reduce exposure to that cue.
Removing temptation is much easier than resisting it. You’ll be spending less and saving more in no time.