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Budget Reboot: Why am I buying this?!

Some of you may be focusing on New Year’s resolutions such as weight loss, quitting smoking or pursuing a more fulfilling career.
With voter turnout at just over 51 per cent, it looks like Greater Sudbury business owners and shoppers will finally be given a choice in when they get to shop.
Some of you may be focusing on New Year’s resolutions such as weight loss, quitting smoking or pursuing a more fulfilling career.

For those of you who haven’t thought of a resolution yet, let me suggest you consider your shopping habits as a place to start. After all, in my experience, even the most disciplined spender can improve their purchasing powers.

Let’s focus on the common triggers of buying. Learning to identify the trigger behind the purchase can help form a healthy approach to spending more wisely and therefore saving your hard earned dollars.


Often times, when a person is experiencing stress, an automatic response is to suppress it by doing something that will have an immediate effect of feeling better. For example, food is often a feel good response for some people when they are under stress, and another common feel good reaction is shopping.

If you identify this trigger in yourself and feel it may be a problem, try the tips mentioned below to avoid spending money you may not have while helping relieve the stress you may be feeling.


There is absolutely nothing wrong with rewarding yourself for the hard work you put in. Whether it’s at your job, in school or elsewhere. However, it’s how you reward your success that makes all the difference.

Oftentimes, it’s easy to justify spending money on a new flatscreen TV or fancy pair of heels when we believe we’ve earned it. But remember, I’m not disputing whether or not you’ve earned it, I’m simply asking you to consider your bank account before making that purchase.


A very common trigger to shopping is simply boredom. When there is nothing exciting going on at home, it’s easy to leave the house in search of something to do.

Suddenly you are at the mall and although you just intend to window shop, something catches your eye and well, enough said.

Boredom isn’t fun. But it doesn’t mean the only fun option is to spend money. Keep reading on to learn how to identify boredom as the trigger and more importantly what to do about it.


I believe the most common trigger is impulse shopping. These days there is very little thought given before a purchase is made.

Often if we spot an item that we know we want and it is thrown in the cart without hesitation. Whether or not we can afford the purchase is not a deciding factor.

Now that you have an understanding of common spending triggers, it may be a good idea to memorize them. The next time you are entering a mall, or even just making a quick errand, give thought to the triggers and whether or not they play a factor on your trip.

If you can honestly rule out each trigger and also be fully aware of your affordability for the item, then go ahead, make that purchase! After all, there is nothing wrong with buying stuff.

In preparation for the next time you may be feeling one of the above triggers, take time to write down a list of things you might enjoy doing in place of shopping.

Whether it’s a hot bath, reading a good book or catching up with a friend over tea, there are countless ways to relief stress, reward your hard work, satisfy periods of boredom and prevent impulse shopping.

You just have to find what is a more affordable solution in each of these situations.

I hope this article has helped you become more aware of your spending habits. Now you can make an informed, conscience decision before deciding whether a purchase is worth your hard earned money or if it could be put to better use for you and your family.

Heather Tarnopolsky is a Sun Life Financial advisor in Greater Sudbury.