Go for it! You deserve a reward for getting a promotion, passing an exam, or meeting your fitness goal. But shopping because you deserve it is an act of self-sabotage if you are racking up too much debt.  Put another way, what have you done to deserve high credit card bills that cause stress and financial difficulties in your life?

Even worse, you are stealing from your retirement savings. Financial advisors are ganging up on millennials and their limitless or overspending. Millennials retirement accounts are the lowest of any generation. No generation has been under more pressure to stop spending and start saving for retirement.

Your ‘little’ overspending problem may even be an addiction or an obsessive-compulsive disorder. Understanding why you are spending too much money is the first step to becoming a recovering shopaholic.

Why You Spend Too Much

Do you see yourself in any of these profiles?

Peer Pressure – Millennials love to spend. If you are part of the generation who thinks the iPhone is a staple and life would be boring without a monthly Spotify subscription to play your favourite tunes at will, then you probably spend too much money keeping up with the Joneses. The top millennial blogs are about, yes, spending!

Not many of us have a job that involves spending money on luxury items, such as Victoria, the blogger of InTheFrow with a PhD in Fashion. If you are not getting paid to spend, consider putting some of that money away for retirement.

Retail Therapy – If you engage in retail therapy, also known as comfort shopping, your motivation is to cheer yourself up. You may treat yourself to new shoes or a new dress when something goes wrong in your life – your boyfriend dumped you, you received a D in accounting, your boss gave you a negative performance review. This type of pick-me-up shopping can actually be healthy if…… you do not overspend and incur debt.

If you do get into debt, think about the silly rationale you are using. In exchange for a temporary boost in your happiness level, you are going to incur 6, 12 or more months of credit card payments that will exert ongoing financial pressure on you. The next time you want retail therapy, go for it, and buy your favourite pistachio ice cream, or the new iPad app you have been wanting for some time. Self-therapy does not have to put you in financial straits.

Impulse Buying – Impulse buyers often incur the highest debt. Does this sound like you? You are walking to the park on your lunch hour to enjoy a pita veggie wrap and some sunshine when you spot a taupe Burberry raincoat with an elegant back pleat on sale in a store window. “What size do you need?” asks the retail clerk as you marvel at the coat. “That will be $410 – cash or credit?” she asks as you whip out your Amex card.

How do you break the habit of overspending two times your weekly salary on your lunch hour? Start by taking an inventory of your home. Make a list of all the items you have never used, used 2 or 3 times, and have not used in a year.

Many waste-conscious women are exercising this popular rule of thumb: Whatever clothing I do not wear in my wardrobe for more than a year, I will donate to charity. For every new item I buy, I need to remove (donate) one item.

Gambling for Gucci – You found the perfect dress for the party, so why not indulge in the $1000 Gucci shoes. If you win the heart of your rich date, the shoes will have been a cheap investment. This season’s gold and platinum shoes look like Cinderella slippers. You plan to romance him with a mix of luxury and fairy tale. If you fail to win his heart, however, you are a further $1000 in debt.

Gucci bags have become one of the ultimate symbols of success in Asian society. But like impulse buying, buying to increase your status is a form of gambling. Ultimately, it can lead to financial difficulties and emotional problems. Gambling can ruin families, jobs and lives, whether it takes place at a Gucci store or a blackjack table.

Seduced by Advertising – Advertising is cleverly designed to manipulate us into buying what we do not need. It plays on all of the psychological traps mentioned above. Do you remember when the whole world lined up in front of toy stores to buy Cabbage Patch Dolls?

Smart marketers convinced us that our children had to have these cuddly dolls. Why not cuddle more with family and friends? Will we one day look back and think how silly we were to line up for days for the newest iPad? To find out how easy it is to be seduced by advertising, check out these ads using subliminal advertising.

We human beings are often illogical creatures. We place a higher value on what we have today than what it will cost us in the future. The enjoyment of having a Burberry coat, a Gucci bag, or the newest iPad is more important than the pain it will cost when we have to pay for it in high monthly instalments over the next 12 months.

People who delay instant gratification are more successful in life.

Read also: Money Checklist for Your 20s, 30s, 40s.

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Founder @ The New Savvy
Anna Haotanto is the Advisor (former CEO) of The New Savvy. She is currently the COO of ABZD Capital and the CMO of Gourmet Food Holdings, an investment firm focusing on opportunities in the global F&B industry. She is part of the founding committee of the Singapore FinTech Association and heads the Women In FinTech and Partnership Committee. Anna is the President of the Singapore Management University Women Alumni. Anna invests and sits on the board of a few startups. Anna is also part of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry Career Women’s Group executive committee. Anna’s story is featured on Millionaire Minds on Channel NewsAsia. She hosts TV shows and events, namely for Channel NewsAsia’s “The Millennial Investor” and “Challenge Tomorrow”, a FinTech documentary. Anna was awarded “Her Times Youth Award” at the Rising50 Women Empowerment Gala, organised by the Indonesian Embassy of Singapore. The award was presented by His Excellency Ngurah Swajaya. She was also awarded Founder of the Year for ASEAN Rice Bowl Startup Awards. She was also awarded the Women Empowerment Award by the Asian Business & Social Forum. Anna has been awarded LinkedIn Power Profiles for founders (2018, 2017), Tatler Gen T, The Peak’s Trailblazers under 40 and a nominee for the Women of The Future award by Aviva



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