SOS: Beat the urge to spend

What we think and how we feel influences many major aspects of our lives — including our daily money decisions. Do you impulse buy? Shop ‘til you drop? Try to keep up with the Joneses? Being more mindful helps us uncover our motivations for buying.

Before you chip your card for purchases other than necessities, do an SOS. An SOS allows you to step back by sweeping your mind; then to orient by focusing on one thing; and lastly to self-check your level of stress and orientation.

Step back: Pause. Take a few deep breaths or a break. Give yourself a few minutes.

Orient yourself: Visualize or think about what is most important to you and what you value most deeply, like “I only buy what I really need,” or “Saving money for my future is important.”

Self-check: Measure two things on a scale from one to 10.

  • How stressed are you — from the worst ever (10) to completely relaxed and calm (1)?
  • How oriented are you — from being totally focused on your deepest values (10) to being completely impulsive and caught up in a mindless reaction (1)?

The self-check not only raises our awareness of how stressed we may feel, but it also reminds us that we always have the choice to orient ourselves based on our values. Try using the SOS approach before hitting the “purchase” button online, and you’ll be better able to discern whether you truly need it and are spending your money wisely.