One of the biggest spending traps people of all income levels need to watch out for is boredom spending. It’s too easy to make this kind of spending into a habit, as we often use it as a way to deal with negative feelings or circumstances. We resort to unnecessary spending not only when we’re bored, but also when we feel down, depressed, lonely, and even confused about a decision we need to make.
Obviously, too much of this kind of spending leaves us much worse off than we originally were. It’s unlikely that we’ll truly feel better in the long run; money and buying things only acts as a sort of band-aid for our problems. And of course, we’re also leaving ourselves worse off financially by blowing our money instead of saving or investing it.
So how do we solve this problem? By choosing meaningful, productive, and positive alternatives to dealing with the negative emotions we experience from time to time, and engaging in behaviors that help us instead of hurt us even more. Shopping isn’t an effective way to solve a troubling issue. Instead, the next time you feel the urge to deal with your feelings by spending, try these 4 alternatives to boredom spending instead:
1. Try a Physical Activity
You don’t have to be a world-class athlete to enjoy sports on either competitive or recreational level. Consider joining a local rec league for your favorite sport – soccer and softball teams are pretty common. You can try something you’ve never done before, like volleyball or ultimate frisbee. Or you can stick to tried-and-true activities that you can do with a group or by yourself, anytime you want: running, swimming, biking, or even just walking. Switching your shopping habit for a physical activity not only improves your finances, but your mental and physical health and fitness, too.
2. Work on a Skill
Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn Spanish. Or you want to learn how to bake souffles. Perhaps you’d like to improve your chess game or become a sudoku master. Do you enjoy crafts but have no idea how to sew? Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn how to garden.
These kinds of skills and abilities are the perfect alternative to boredom spending. You can get started with most of these for free by simply doing some necessary research online or at the library. Additional resources or materials you may need should also be free or at least low-cost. The benefit of spending even a little bit of money here is far greater and offers more reward and fulfillment than any money you would spend shopping or buying more stuff you don’t need.
3. Get Organized and Keep the Stuff You Already Have in Good Condition
Nope, it’s not glamorous, but it’s a fact of life: stuff gets dirty. It needs to be cleaned. So if you feel bored or down, don’t waste your time and money going out to get even more stuff that’s just going to pile up and turn into clutter. Take the time to care for the items you already have.
Go through what you have and get organized. Sell what you can to earn a bit of extra cash, give away the stuff you don’t need and trash what’s seen better days. Clean up your home, and if it’s been a while since you gave everything a good scrub-down, go through room by room and get everything back in tip-top shape. You’ll feel better for living in a clean space, and your wallet will thank you for passing your time productively instead of emptying it on more stuff that will get used once and then forgotten.
4. Start Up a Side Hustle Instead of Giving in to Boredom Spending
If you’re bored and want to spend money, why not rearrange your thinking so that when you’re bored you want to make money? Thanks to the fact we live in the digital age, creating your own side hustle is easier than ever. There’s a whole wide world waiting for you to come along and monetize your skill set. Take advantage of all the opportunities people have never had before, and set up your online biz. Your gigs can be as small or as big as you want them to be and can provide a bit of extra money or you can develop them into fully fledged businesses. The options are endless and it’s all up to you.