Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tame your cravings

Women's Health wrote an article on the most common root causes of cravings and how to tame them:

• Out of control hunger – eat smaller meals more often

• Distraction – eat with your other hand

• Losing sight of your goal – weigh yourself regularly

• Emotional eating – lift your spirits

What does this have to do with personal finance? Well, if unhealthy eating habits are rooted in our psyche, so too are habits that sabotage our finances. If you can identify your weaknesses in other areas – say, eating – then chances are you can tackle those same issues in spending.

• Out of control spending – unlike eating, you do not have to spend money. If you’re playing pimp to your credit card more than you’d like, put it somewhere where you can’t use it for one week. Some people freeze it in a bowl of water. Others just leave it on their nightstand when they head out.

• Distraction – make a list of items you are shopping for, and take it out periodically when you're running errands. If you’re headed to Nordstrom to buy a new pair of shoes, don’t let yourself get sidetracked by the cute shorts in Forever 21’s window.

• Losing sight of your goal – instead of perusing the sale on your favorite retailer’s website, instead log into online banking or your investment account and see how the balances are growing. If you’re saving up for your wedding or a big trip, get on one of those sites.

• Emotional spending – you gotta find yourself a buddy! Maybe someone who’s in the same boat, so you can call him or her each time you find yourself pacing your apartment. Emotional spending is often the result of self-esteem issues; try checking out the self help section of your favorite book store – without your wallet. (Ironically, for emotional eating, they suggested buying yourself the cute top you’ve been eyeing. Maybe if you’re emotionally shopping, you should just eat a cupcake?)

With any spending problem, I highly recommend an online budget tool like or

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