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What Is Your Spending Style and Do You Walk the Line?

What Is Your Spending Style and Do You Walk the Line?

The American individual credit card balance went down from $6,629 to $5,897 between 2019 to 2020; however, emotional spending is still quite prevalent among society.

What is emotional spending? The coined expression “retail therapy” sums it up. Retail therapy is actively purchasing things with the intent to make you feel better. In itself, it is not a bad thing — if done in a measured way.

However, it becomes a problem when you lack self-regulation and spending spins out of control. You can develop self-mastery with regards to your spending by understanding emotional spending’s opposites.

Life is full of opposites. Personal finance consists of the opposites impulsive and cautious spending. Cautious spending is not a bad thing in itself. There is no real consequence except that you might be overly cautious and not enjoy the little things in life; however, with impulse spending there can be serious financial consequences.

[Related: Closing The Generational Gaps In Financial Literacy]

How do you strike a balance between the two? Just as Johnny Cash sang “I walk the line,” there’s a line that you walk between them. The line represents self-regulation, constituting the balance between self-awareness and discipline.

It’s okay sometimes to be impulsive, but you have to take heed and be mindful of your finances and whether this is an impulse you can afford. This is walking the line.

On the other hand, the benefits of self-regulation coupled with discipline and self-awareness with regards to your purchases, of all sizes, is that you stay within your budget — possessing little or no debt and a good FICO score.

Before each purchase, follow these steps to help you walk the line of self-regulation with regards to in-the-moment spending:

  • Wait 48 hours before making a purchase.
  • Analyze the purchase in regards to if it is a true need or simply a want.
  • Evaluate your money resources.
  • Check your budget.
  • Comparison shop.
  • Assess how the purchase makes you feel - empowered or guilty?

If you feel empowered rather than guilty about your purchase after reviewing the aforementioned steps, you are exercising your personal freedom of finance by walking the self-regulation line between the two spheres of cautious and impulsive spending.

[Related: Building the Foundation for Financial Security and Independence]

Walking the self-regulation line helps you build your financial nest egg. You can put every dollar you do not mindlessly spend into a financial instrument that will make money. Compound interest, your tireless money-making worker, works for you even as you sleep to amplify your earnings.

Once you master the walk between the impulsivity sphere and the cautious sphere via the self-regulation line, you'll possess the best of both worlds by understanding the balance between impulsive purchases and practicing responsible spending. The money saved can fund rewarding investments.

Constructive spending, consistent discipline, and constant self-awareness lead to money habits that create a strong retirement asset reserve. Long-term savings behavior begins with your choice to consistently self-regulate between the two opposite circles of impulsivity and cautiousness.

Operating between the circles of impulsiveness and caution by walking the self-regulation line is a lifetime mindset. Ultimately, this lifestyle is to be embraced. Consistently exercising these attitudes and behaviors makes you self-sufficient and wealthy. Peace of mind emerges - a peace that is priceless and cannot be bought.

[Related: Take Charge of Your Finances to Give Your Career a Boost]


Pichi Bellingrath McClure is a resilience expert. She helps people strengthen their personal leadership and overcome the impossible through her content, tools, and strategies. Subscribe to her biweekly Resilience Tips and follow her on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.

Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.