How to Avoid Payday Spending Splurges

by​ Kay Abdelrahman

Is your wallet typically empty the day after payday? There may be a psychology behind your urge to splurge. Take these steps to change your spending ways!

Finally, it’s here! It is your payday. You have money in the bank, but there are people and places waiting to take most of it away from you.

So maybe a quick trip to the mall to window shop or a five-minute browse on Amazon.com will be good for your mood. All you’ll probably buy is one or two items at most. Right? After all, you deserve a treat for all your hard work. Here’s something you deserve more: peace of mind. Let’s take a look at what human psychology has to say about your urge to splurge on payday.

Poor Self-Control and Bandages

In the American Psychological Association (APA) article, “What’s Behind American Consumerism?”, Roy Baumeister, PhD, sociology professor and researcher, reports that when we have too many tasks that test our self-control, our ability to restrain our impulses is weakened. People give in to the urge to splurge on payday because the instant gratification of “getting what they want now” serves as a bandage for deeper issues that are troubling them. (source: apa.org)

There will be more than one thing undermining your self-control. Before payday, take time to reflect. Make a list of the things that must be paid and an amount to be put aside that will give you peace of mind for the rest of the month. Is your decision to head to the mall where you know you will be tempted a form of escape?

Because treating yourself in moderation and taking regular breaks are both essential to your psychological health, go get ice cream or a nice lunch just for you. Buying whatever you want on a once-a-month trip to Baskin Robbins won’t take as big a chunk out of your paycheck as buying whatever you want on a vacation to the mall or a never-ending “quick” browse on Amazon.com.

Is the problem that you are feeling unappreciated at home? Talk it out. Is it feeling unappreciated at work? Look for a better job. When a consumer society drills the idea that shopping is the way to get what you deserve, remind yourself that to give in now means that you’ll feel guilty and worried about your bills until the next payday.

You can control your actions on payday. You gave up part of your life earning that paycheck. You control what happens to it from this point on.

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Self-Discipline and Temptation

Having the self-discipline you need when trying to stick to a monthly budget depends on avoiding tempting situations. Leaving yourself open to receive digital ads that Google unfortunately tailors just for you doesn’t help strengthen your willpower. Turn off digital ads by logging into your Google account and changing the settings in the “Personal Info & Privacy” category and unsubscribe to store mailing lists.

One of the first things that tests your resolve is how easy it is to get to your money. The American Psychological Association also discusses the allure of the credit card, charge-it culture stating that “credit cards condition us to give in to impulses.” Always keep in mind that your past decision to apply for credit cards is the reason one or more credit card companies will be getting a share of your current paycheck.

It’s easy to apply for a credit card, easy to get the free-for-now money, easy to carry the plastic, and easy to use. The solution is to make it hard to apply for a new credit card and use the ones you have. Put a credit hold on your account. Buy a paper shredder, and when you get a pre-approval letter from a credit card company, give it to the muncher.

Are You Heading for Debt Trouble?

This simple checklist can help you find out and provide options for doing something about it.

A Payday Routine

People are more productive when there is a routine in place. A payday routine might include these ideas.

  1. Recharge debit cards for all your monthly expenses (include a payday reward for your hard work).
  2. Keep your credit cards at home. Carry emergency credit cards in the zippered compartment as a reminder not to use them. Only use your debit cards for budgeted expenses.

Being aware of the psychological reasons behind payday splurges can help you avoid them. You’ll end up with more money and greater peace of mind.

Reviewed November 2019

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