I'm Karen!

I am a blogger and finance coach. My specialty is helping couples get on the same financial page and win with money and marriage. 


Personal Finance


Financial Planning

What are spending triggers?

What are spending triggers? Spending triggers impact everyone, and they often operate beneath the surface of our awareness. How can you control your spending triggers? 

Even the most financially frugal individuals can find themselves succumbing to impulsive spending urges. 

The purpose of this blog is to help you recognise and understand your spending triggers, enabling you to effectively manage them and regain control of your finances.

Impulse buying is more prevalent than you might think, and by shedding light on your personal spending triggers, you can prevent unanticipated shopping sprees. 

My objective in this post is to pinpoint these triggers, empowering you to make informed decisions about your spending.

When we talk about triggers, we’re not delving into the realm of psychological trauma. Instead, we’re referring to the emotions that lead us into spending temptations. 

Spending triggers are generally subconscious and completely unplanned. 

Let’s think about your recent impulse buys, because when you are aware of your spending triggers, you can take control of your financial decisions.

Are you aware of what prompts your spending habits? Take, for example, my husband’s love for gadgets – when he’s feeling down, splurging on new tech makes him feel better. Identifying these triggers is essential, and they often revolve around various emotions and circumstances.

Your spending triggers can be linked to feelings of busyness, happiness, or sadness. They can also strike when you’re bored or procrastinating. Usually, it’s an emotion that acts as the catalyst, and it can be a combination of emotions and situations.

How can you control you spending triggers?

Think about the last time you made an unplanned purchase. Would you classify it as an impulse buy? What were you feeling when you made that purchase? Did you experience a momentary high, only to regret it later? Did your emotions get the best of you?

Recognising these triggers is crucial, especially if the purchase was significant and might affect your current financial goals.

By being aware of the emotions driving your spending, you can regain control. Once you’ve identified the emotions behind these spending triggers, it’s time to reflect on your past spending sprees.

Recall instances from the last few months when you felt guilty about a purchase. Ask yourself some probing questions. The aim is to not only pinpoint the circumstances and emotions triggering your spending but also to understand the consequences and outcomes.


  • What were the circumstances surrounding the purchase?
  • How were you feeling at that moment?
  • When you revisit that scene in your mind, how would you describe yourself?
  • What was your mood like?
  • What thoughts were running through your mind?
  • What exactly did you purchase?
  • How much did you spend?
  • Were you shopping in a physical store or online?
  • Was the item on sale?
  • Were you with friends or alone?
  • What kind of day were you having?
  • Is there anything else that might have encouraged you to spend on that particular day?

By examining these details, you can gain valuable insights into your spending triggers and make more informed decisions about your finances moving forward.

Take a moment to reflect on your answers to the questions posed earlier. 

Were you consistently accompanied by a friend when those unplanned purchases occurred, or were you alone? 

Did they tend to happen on good or bad days? 

Was it morning, afternoon, or evening?

A weekday or a weekend? 

What events prompted these shopping excursions? 

Were you buying to make an impression on others?

Now, it’s time to go deeper into these questions and truly understand the emotions that drove your shopping decisions. 

Having identified and comprehended these triggers, you can consider alternative actions for similar situations in the future.

Remember, when these spending triggers kick in, logical and rational thinking often takes a backseat to emotions. Be kind to yourself as you navigate this newfound knowledge. 

With time and practise, you can learn to conquer these triggers. They’ll become something you’re conscious of, and you’ll have a plan to manage them.

Visualise the ideal outcome the next time you’re tempted to make an impulse purchase. 

What’s your ultimate goal? 

What’s the best-case scenario? 

Consider the emotions that an impulse buy provides and think about alternative ways to attain those feelings.

Explore methods to delay impulsive spending – perhaps calling a friend, leaving your online shopping cart for 24 hours, or planning for the expense by saving in advance, allowing you to enjoy guilt-free shopping. Read this blog on How to Spend Mindfully.

I hope this process has given you a deeper understanding of your spending triggers and why you sometimes make unplanned purchases. 

As a financial coach, my role is to assist you in creating a budget for your financial future, but the commitment to this journey is entirely in your hands.

If you ever feel that a spending trigger has taken hold, don’t hesitate to reach out.

You’ll know when you feel that pang of guilt after an impromptu purchase, and those emotions can be challenging to discuss. But rest assured, I’m here to support you without judgement. We can explore your feelings and devise a plan for how to respond in the future.

My role isn’t to pass judgement but to guide you through this process. 

As a financial coach, I help my clients not only identify their triggers but also develop strategies to make such purchases the exception rather than the rule. If you’d like to put a purpose behind your spending, consider exploring my Create A Budget That Works For You In Less Than 60 Minutes coaching session. In this one-hour, one-on-one coaching session, you’ll leave with an actionable budget that works for you!

For more information leave a comment below or email me at hello@moneyandmarriage.net to schedule a 30 minute complimentary call.

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