Fighting the winter urge to splurge

2nd December 2016
by:

I spoke about my traumatic relationship with money in my last blog and in the aftermath of Black Friday, my spending complex isn’t about to run out any time soon. After all, ‘tis the season to lose self control. Gastronomically, financially and otherwise.

That’s right. It’s time to wrap up warm and pull the wool over your own eyes (or at least that seems to be what retailers are encouraging).

Flash sales, cut prices – Black Friday kicked off the frenzy of winter spending, with analysts claiming we spent a record £5.8 billion over the four days between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

But are we being persuaded into spending money we don’t have on things we don’t need? At this time of year especially, I think it’s a resounding ‘yes’.

I don’t know about you, but I was inundated with incessant promotional emails, telling me to act quick so as not to miss out. ‘Unmissable’ sales left, right and centre. The catastrophic spender that I am, I was very tempted to follow the links and buy myself all the goodies on my wish-list.

Throw money in the air gif

It’s a fantastic ploy that the words ‘Black Friday’ or ‘Cyber Monday’ immediately conjure up images of eye watering discounts to get excited over. It’s a weekend hijacked by consumer ideals and now designated for a proper retail therapy binge.

Slogans slapped across shop windows entice even the most resistant high street shoppers into stores, tapping into the impulse buyer in all of us. Fear mongering promotion tactics certainly contribute to the ‘If I don’t buy now, it’ll cost me’ mentality.

Having said that, we’re very quickly moving away from joining the hoards on a cold Friday morning and instead turning to what we know best – online shopping.

In the States, bargain hunters took to the web, America spending 12.1% more this year than Cyber Monday in 2015. Scrolling through online retailers for the best deal, the savvy American spenders were on the prowl. Likewise, in the UK, technology sales gained huge online traffic on Monday, with buyers keen to get the most out of the Black Friday weekend in it’s dying hours.

So in the wake left after Black Friday and it’s growing little brother, Cyber Monday, it’s interesting to question whether we’re all impulse buyers after all.

In reality, by checking out competitors in multiple tabs, it seems that the modern spender is gaining some thrifty spending habits.

We’re keeping away from the kerfuffle and chaos in stores and opting to window shop from the comfort of our own sofa. A recent survey found that 84% of shoppers will check Amazon before looking and buying anywhere else, representing a shift from the knee-jerk buy, to the calm and collected scroll-and-click.

UK black friday sales breakdown by device graph

Another trend was using mobile devices and retail apps to prevent shameful profligacy but still gratifying the urge to splurge over Cyber Monday.

Whilst over half (52%) of UK Black Friday purchases were made on mobile in 2015, America led the way with $1.2 bn being spent from smartphones and tablets, reinforcing the reign of mobile as the growing go-to for money management. To avoid the impulse purchases on the high street, we’re turning to the powerful tech in our pockets to check out the best deals, buying late and waiting for better prices.

Having said that, our recent poll found that people were just as likely to impulse buy as they were to wish the festive period away, claiming they would simply rather ‘hibernate till January’.

There is a perceived lack of control when it comes to winter money management. Whether we are head burying or makin’ it rain, we don’t really seem to be enjoying ourselves. Either feeling guilty or just counting down the days until it’s all over.

This time of year requires a little preparation if we choose to be liberally spending our hard earned sheckles on the winter classics: mince pies, Baileys and the like. I’m making a real effort to have a budget in mind and keep a keen eye on how healthy the balance is looking (if only there was an app coming for that…).

Learning from the ghost (and bad memories) of Christmas Past, I promised myself to be a little more composed with my spending this year. Buying myself a pair of winter boots meant a visit to the same store three times, trying on the same pair three times, just so I knew I was buying what I wanted and what I needed. I’d usually grab the first pair that caught my eye, try one on and give the nod. And as a consequence I survived Black Friday with no serious trauma, emotionally or financially.

Whether I’m more sensible now or just worse at making fast decisions, I’ve thankfully managed to avoid emulating the dungaree fiasco of 2013.

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