Understanding why we spend money

4 min | 10 July 2023

The Chase team

It’s hard to put emotions to one side when you’re thinking about buying something you want. Identifying your spending behaviours involves taking a look at the triggers behind them to see how they could be directing you.

Our relationship with money and the way we spend or save can often be traced back to how our parents approached their finances when we were growing up. Other factors can affect our relationship with money too – including our personality, values and emotions.

What type of spender are you?

Identifying your money personality type can be a good place to start if you’re trying to curb your spending or simply make better decisions about where your money should go. There are personality tests and quizzes online that could give you a better picture of what motivates you when it comes to money.

For example, you could be an investor, spender or saver. And the way you spend could be precise or a bit more carefree. In some cases, your spending habits could mean that you struggle to spend within your means or keep to a budget. You might be prone to making riskier investment decisions, or you might be more cautious when it comes to risk.

Whatever your triggers, trying to identify them could help you understand your approach to money. These insights could even help you change your spending patterns, such as sticking to a budget if you’ve found it difficult in the past.

What are your spending triggers?

People spend for any number of reasons – from boredom or sadness to fear and other feelings, like buying things for status, because of peer pressure, or to seek comfort and security.

Maybe you’re on holiday – or it’s Christmas – and you feel that normal budgeting rules don’t apply. Or, you’re attracted to deals and savings that might not be as good as they seem, but seizing them gives you a feel-good sense of achievement.

Some studies explore how retail therapy can release feel-good chemicals in your brain, which could lead you to want to spend more often. On the flip side, there’s a similar effect when you save up for something over time and practise delayed gratification.

Your monthly budget could be a great way to help you stay on top of your money and give you an idea of how much you can spend – not just on treats and rewards – but on long-term goals like your savings and retirement as well.

Explore practical solutions

There are ways to help you succeed in staying in control of your money while still being able to enjoy it, if this is one of your money goals. For example:

Use cash or a debit card (rather than a credit card)

By using the money you already have, you might find that you’ve spent less over the month than you normally would. Check out our guide to Kakeibo, the budgeting method from Japan that uses the envelope system.

Keep a log of your goals

Are you saving for a holiday, a rainy day or something else? Defining your goals could help you swap spending for saving. How different were your emotions when you bought something compared to when you put away a chunk of money into savings?

Find an informative resource about money

It could be a blog or podcast on the topic of spending or saving that's doing well in the streaming charts. You could also see if the author has written any articles or books you can follow up with. You’re more likely to take away some practical tips if the content interests you and contains themes or ideas that speak to you and your spending habits.

If there are some changes that you can get on board with, you’ll be in a stronger position to meet your goals – whether it’s cutting your credit card use, sticking to your monthly budget, spending wisely or saving for the future.

Whatever you decide to do, look after your money. Chase's easy-access saver account lets you start saving with as little as you like.

18+, UK residents. A Chase current account is required to open a saver account.

Disclaimer: The Hub is intended as a knowledge portal to provide information on a range of topics, including financial products and lifestyle management. These articles are not financial advice. Articles may reference products and services which Chase UK does not currently offer.

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