Signs You Trigger Spend and What To Do

Jun 06, 2023

Have you heard of trigger spending?


It's when we spend based on a momentary discomfort. For example, if you're at work and get an unexpected phone call from a family member who always gets under your skin. Instead of finishing the project you were deep into, you're off to get a coffee, making small talk with co-workers, and online shopping for those shoes you've been eyeing.


Or what about this trigger spend? You're attending a friend's birthday party, and you don't know anybody, and nobody is inviting you into the conversation. You feel completely invisible. You leave the party and walk into Sephora to buy a few "essentials" to cheer yourself up. 

Trigger spending is problematic for two main reasons. 


  1. It's masking your natural emotional reaction. By ignoring your inner discomfort, you train your brain to avoid anything that feels fearful. Not being able to handle your fear could lead to you not being able to discern a dangerous situation or prevent you from stepping outside your comfort zone because it feels overwhelmingly scary.


  1. If you can't afford the purchases made during a trigger, the consequences are more than just credit card debt. Getting into credit card debt over mindless shopping doesn't feel good. But you know what's equally as bad? You can feel shame, blame, guilt, and embarrassment post-trigger spending. These emotions can long affect your confidence, self-esteem, and desire to fix your money mindset.


How do we prevent trigger spending?


  1. Acknowledge your needs/wants. When you feel triggered, talk to your inner self and say, "hi self, I hear and see you. You are safe. Is there something you're feeling? What do you need right now?" You'll typically find by pausing that what you need is usually something other than something. It was to feel heard.  


  1. Love your budget as much as you love struggling. I know this is a feisty comment. But if you hated being broke and feeling ashamed of your spending, wouldn't you stop? Trigger spending is comfortable and familiar. When you embrace budgeting, the process is LIFE CHANGING $elf Care work. By prioritizing your budget, you tell the universe that you matter more than anyone else. Isn't that sexy? 


  1.   When the emotions have calmed down, can you look at the trigger and see what you could do differently in the future? Can you keep your phone on do not disturb during the day, or ask to bring a friend to the party so you feel less alone? Use the trigger as an opportunity to self-reflect. 


I invite you to grab your journal or notes app and ask yourself: 


How does trigger spending impact you? 

Have you experienced a trigger spend in the last seven days? 

Do you want a better way of handling your triggers? What would that look like?


Beyond The Basics: Our Glossary Of Financial Terms

We define the lingo you'll need to become a finance expert!

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.