It’s that time of year again. Christmas is finally upon us. There are presents to buy; party outfits to try; and party jollof and drinks to hunt and gather. Time for us to head out there and spend, spend and spend. But for too many of us, a lot of that spending is on ourselves. Funny but true.

It’s not a matter of if, it is certain that majority of us have been in and out of shopping malls, Eko Idumota, Balogun, Trade Fair and every other major markets, spending a fair chunk of our time at the shops.

Also, I’m certain time isn’t the only thing you’ve been spending, if you know what I mean.

Yes I mean money, but hold on, this is not a judgment call, because as you might have already guessed, we’re all guilty.

Thankfully, this post is not about pointing accusing fingers, it’s about figuring out how to keep our fingers from pulling out those naira notes unless it’s absolutely necessary. Especially in this yuletide season when it seems impossible to refrain yourself from spending the ‘money you don’t have’.

Refrain from slipping into retail therapy mode.

Retail therapy is a term we use lightly; in fact, here in Naija, we don’t use it at all but we do well to indulge in buying ourselves anything that makes us happy or catches our fancy. Right or right?

At a time of year when expectations and emotions are running high, our spending really isn’t always driven by joy and generosity because for starters, when you sight that buy-one-get-one-free tag, your shopping immediately skyrockets. That’s just one, there are a thousand and one other reasons for retail therapy.

Lots of us grapple with a bunch of difficult emotions during the holiday season: stress; loneliness; resentment; guilt; discontentment; and to avoid feeling overwhelmed we turn to our preferred escape route, whether that’s comfort-eating, alcohol, drugs or gambling.

However, it will do us a lot of good if we’re realized quickly that experiencing emotional overload can be a fast-track to overspending and hence, debt.

While a skyrocketed amount of sales may have retailers rubbing their hands with glee, a merry Christmas doesn’t necessarily lead to a happy new year for shoppers. So what’s to do?

  1. Track your spending

If we were talking about emotional eating, you’ll be encouraged to keep a diary of what you eat plus when and what you were feeling at the time. A similar exercise with spending can help reveal what’s driving you. And as you know, first step to solving a problem is to admit that it exists and then find out why.

  1. Be prepared 

Prepare for times when you’re likely to feel vulnerable. If you know a bad day at the office or a quiet weekend makes you want to shop, look for alternative ways to boost your sense of well-being or connection. I would actually ask someone to think about not going near a shop for a few months and then seeing how they feel and whether it makes any difference. I know as a woman that might be a herculean task, so here’s what I’ll recommend. Cultivate healthy relationships, tell someone about it, go to the market with that someone and give them the right to stop you from impulsive buying. Which leads to the next point…

  1. Set boundaries 

Shop with someone who will question whether you really need to buy something. You might not have enough time to think rationally about whether you actually need an item but trust me the next person knows; as long as you don’t go with a shopaholic too.

Also, on setting boundaries, try to experience spending without the fall-back; set a budget for treating yourself and stick to it. As you know, if we decide to go the rash route that says ‘oh I’m never going to treat myself’, we both know that’s not going to happen. So, what I’ll say is, set a budget that allows you to get back into a routine of understanding what your limitations are.

  1. Change your self-talk 

Be conscious of how your self-talk might encourage you to spend: ‘I deserve this; I’ve worked hard’; ‘I can’t go to a party in that same dress’; ‘I’ve worn that dress to church before’. ‘Everyone else has one of these’. Try asking yourself: Do I really need this? Do I really need this now? How will I feel tomorrow if I buy this?

You may rationalize your spending as a form of compensation, so you may reward yourself because you have worked hard all year at work; you probably even got a promotion, or just maybe your family expects so much from you, but trust me when the consequences (i.e. regret, debt, etc.) kick in, those reasons will be the least on your mind. So, won’t you rather do the needful now?

If you have any questions or need clarification, do well to leave a comment about it or join the conversation in our community. Merry Christmas to you and yours!!