You want it. You can't stop thinking about it. You must have it. You keep visiting websites about it. You find it for sale online, and your finger hovers over the button. You see it in a store, and you almost can't tear yourself away from picking it up and holding it in your hands. Whatever that item is, you crave it. You want it so bad you can almost taste it.
This post originally appeared on The Simple Dollar.
However, giving into that craving without planning ahead for it is a sure way to disrupt your plans and your budget and your positive financial progress. For me, the craving often revolves around books. I want to read the latest bestsellers. I want to take some of my most-loved and most-thought-provoking books and actually annotate the pages, almost as if they were a journal. I want to read and re-read books that I love and share them with friends.
I recognise the craving for what it is. It's just a strong desire for something I don't really need that, if I'm not careful, can grow out of control and cause me to toss aside sensible financial principles. You might crave something else. Maybe it's video games. Maybe it's clothing. Maybe it's fine wine. Maybe it's craft beer. Maybe it's hunting gear. I know people who crave all of those things.
Whatever that material item is that you crave, it's a potential danger to your personal finances if you let it go unchecked. Thankfully, there are several steps you can take to curb that craving.
Don't Shop Recreationally
Don't go into a store without a specific purchase in mind that you've already considered carefully and researched. Pick the item you want, buy it, and get out of there.
Stores are designed from the bottom up to encourage product desire and encourage you to buy things that you shouldn't. Recreational shopping amounts to begging the stores to take money from you for things you don't want. Just avoid it.
Don't Watch Television Without a Specific Program in Mind
Sure, there's ads, but the problem is actually in the programs themselves. Almost every program on television is laden with product placement, from the beverage someone is drinking in a sitcom to the logos all over the place on sports programming. It's all there to remind you of products and keep them in your head.
Don't Web Browse Without a Specific Purpose
Again, the ads are the obvious part, but there are so many "stories," particularly on news sites, that amount to little more than advertisements for a product. They glow about the latest gadget or the latest food product and make it sound like anyone who's anyone must have it. Keep your web browsing to a specific purpose and minimize this junk.
Seek Out Entertainment That Doesn't Involve Material Possessions
Go to free concerts. Get involved in charities. Read books or watch movies from the library. Host dinner parties for your friends. Practice meditation or prayer. Dig deep into exercise. All of these hobbies and activities are enjoyed without having to have "stuff." The more you can do without "stuff" being a requirement, the less you'll desire it.
The "Craving" and How to Curb It [The Simple Dollar]
Trent Hamm is a personal finance writer at TheSimpleDollar.com. After pulling himself out of his own financial crisis, he founded the site in late 2006 to help others through financially difficult situations; today the site has become a finance, insurance, and retirement resource. Contact Trent at trent AT the simple dollar DOT com; please send site inquiries to inquiries AT the simple dollar DOT com.