9 Tips to Help You Deal With the Impulses that Can Break your Budget and Your Waistline
We have all done it, we go into the holiday season thinking that this will be the year we won’t spend too much or eat too much, and we end the holiday season over budget and having gained a few pounds. It is easy to think what’s the harm? Christmas only comes once a year right? But that is EXACTLY the problem!! when you start to add up your indiscretions over the years the consequences are not so pleasant. An extra 3 pounds spread out over 10 years is an addition 30 pounds on your frame, and adding $1000 in debt over 10 years is a whopping $10,000 of debt you have to pay interest on over 10 years.
Add that to the fact that working those pounds off or paying off that debt, no matter how well intentioned you are – is always harder than it seemed when you made those promises, and it is easy to see why it is simply better to learn to curb those impulses.
I don’t know about you but when I make it through the year without any extra weight and without going over budget, when January 1st comes round there is no remorse, in fact it FEELS good!
Curbing Impulse is Easier Said Than Done
That said, curbing impulse is never easier, and at Christmas it is hardest of all. Not only is it Christmas but it is the beginning of a long winter, and of course diet and tax season is coming up…. So why not splurge right?
There are a lot of good reasons not to splurge, think about how fast the extra money add ups in your bank, how many bills you can REALLY pay off this year, and those extra pounds you gain?? They are always harder to take off than they were to put on. Don’t start your year out with regrets and guilt…
Understanding Impulsive Urges
I have just got to have the dress…it will look so great for my Christmas party, and besides it is on sale…. I will never see it again; I will NEVER get it for that price!!
We have all done it; we convince ourselves that if we do not do it now, that we will never be able to… Somehow our brain stops thinking logically, we do not think about how once that giant piece of fudge is eaten, and that plate of Christmas cookies is devastated that there is no going back….
The secret to controlling impulses, the bane of frugality, is to learn to step back, and look at the situation logically.
Make a commitment to not buy or eat anything this Christmas without thinking about it first….
9 Tips to Avoid the Impulsivity Trap
- Become Aware of Impulse spending and eating – Recognizing the problem and becoming aware of when you do it is the first step to changing it. If you do nothing but realize you are being impulsive you are half way to eliminating impulsiveness in your spending and eating habits.
- Plan ahead – Planning is one of the biggest ways to stop impulsiveness. When it comes to shopping, a shopping list will allow you to get what you need and what you want, and walk away. Plan reasonably; because the more you feel “entitled” the more likely you are to be impulsive. Work a special treat into your shopping trip or the party you are headed out to. Feelings of deprivation will only make it harder to control impulsiveness. If you plan indulgences carefully into your activities you are far less likely to want to indulge.
- Create Rules for your Behavior – Before you can create rules you must understand what behaviors you have. Make a list….. are you a bargainer? (I will not eat dinner so I can have goodies at the party tonight, I will not buy this so I can spend 3 times as much money on something else), Do you justify your behavior (it will never be this cheap again, One cookie won’t hurt,), are you an emotional buyer and eater? (It might make me feel better if I buy that dress or eat that piece of candy?) Create rules based on the excuses that you make, If you bargain, make a rule that you can either stick to your list, or buy nothing. Head home think about it, and make a new list and go shopping another day. It is not saying no to what you want, it is saying no to being impulsive. Have a money or calorie budget and stick to it, when it is gone, it is gone. Decide you will not buy or impulse eat when you are feeling down or stressed period, wait until the mood passes.
- Offer yourself an Acceptable reward for Compliance – Don’t deny yourself, deprivation is the easiest path to impulsivity. Plan rewards into whatever you are doing, if it is shopping, give yourself a small budget, if it is a party where rich foods are involved, allow yourself to choose 1 or 2 things you want most. Or if you refrain from eating something you know will pack on the pounds, treat yourself to a healthy indulgence later to celebrate.
- Put off Impulsivity – Impulsivity is all about the NOW….. Most people when they have had a chance to think about it, don’t want to be impulsive. But there is the key, taking the time to think about it. Set a time, if you want to buy more toys for your child for Christmas and you know it is not in your budget, go have a cup a coffee and write down all of the benefits and disadvantages to spending that extra money. If you go back to spend the money you will at least know that it is no longer an impulsive decision. Sometimes postponing eating something at a party and perhaps taking it home with you, by the time you get home you find it was not the urge to indulge as much as the urge to celebrate or do the same thing everyone else is doing. That rich dessert may not look as good once you get home.
- Don’t be impulsive Without talking about it first – Find someone to talk to about your desire to be impulsive. Commiserating with your friend about how good something looks and how much you want it, is sometimes all you need to remember why it is so important to walk away. Choose supportive friends to talk to, ones you know will understand why you do not want the extra calories.
- Avoid Situations that Create impulsive behavior – If it is really important to not let impulses get to you, then you may want to avoid the situation all together. If someone you know is having a Christmas party at the Chinese buffet and you know you will not be able to resist then simply do not go. Sometimes it is just better to avoid, if you know that you will not be able to reign in your impulsive urges.
- Set a money and food Budget and stick to it – It is ok to set a budget, but make sure the budget is something that is attainable. Think about what your goals are this year, and make sure your money or calorie budget is in keeping with this. Realistic goals feel just as good and are easier to attain than unrealistic goals.
- Choose when to Indulge – Not being impulsive means taking control of your urges. It does not mean pushing them away and pretending like they do not exist. If you are craving chocolate and it is all around you then by all means have a small piece of the richest and most indulgent chocolate you can find. Sometimes just knowing what your body is asking for and being mindful of its desires is all you need to kick the impulsivity trap.
Most Importantly of All!
Understand that it might not feel good at the time, but tomorrow it will feel much better – Perhaps most important of all, is understanding that walking away from that great sale, or that huge amazing buffet may not feel good all the time. At least not at the moment when you choose to do so. You might feel deprived no matter how hard you try not to, you might feel like you are missing out on the deal of the century.
For the impulsive person that can feel crummy…. At least at first. But the GOOD feelings will come. Without exception most impulsive people feel wonderful after they have reigned in their impulsiveness, it just may take some time to feel that way. Tonight walking away from all those calories may feel horrible, but when you get up in the morning, not hung over from too much sugar and fat, it will feel terrific. If you can keep that in perspective it will go a long ways to helping you walk away.