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What is your greatest addiction? It doesn’t have to be something illegal or severe like drugs or alcohol. It could be small things that add up, like the thousands of dollars of shoes or those four trips to Starbucks a day. Now I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with these things; little indulgences are one of life’s greatest pleasures. But when these small purchases and bigger splurges add up to financial trouble, that’s when things get tricky.

So what is it about spending that makes you feel so good? Why is swiping that credit card or the feel of money exchanging hands so exciting? Start thinking of your money – from your pay checks to your investments to your discretionary spending – as a cash flow that has energy. Your energy flows where your energy goes.

As your money flows from your bank account to your investments to savings to purchases to college funds, it also reflects where you are energetically. And not just in your life as a whole, but where you are in that moment of the day. Although it may not always seem like it, your energy at any given moment has an enormous impact on your spending. How often do you find yourself bored or upset or antsy and end up online shopping for hours to pass the time until you feel better? Probably more than you think.

Always keep in mind that you have control over how you feel. You are truly the guardian of what’s happening in your heart and head. No one can make you feel anything if you don’t allow them to. So when you feel the urge to spend after a rough day at the office or a fight with your significant other, take a moment and realize that dealing with the root of the issue – your feelings – is a better course of action than numbing how you feel with shiny new items.

Action step

In order to live your best life, you need to learn to temper those feelings of needing to spend on the things that don’t matter. Constantly purchasing items because it feels good – and not because they are necessary or a once-in-a-while splurge – is a set up for financial ruin. And for you to achieve the goals you have for yourself, you need to first get a handle on the aspects of your finances that make you feel out of control.

Spend the next few weeks writing down what you’re spending on and then why you bought that item. What were you feeling with you chose to purchase it? Happy? Sad? Discouraged? Bored? Be as specific as possible. After a few days or a week, you’ll begin to notice the patterns of your spending. If you spend when you’re disappointed about something that happened at work or when you’re feeling overwhelmed with a situation in your personal life. Be as thorough and honest as possible because once you recognize your patterns, you can take steps towards rewiring your actions to better reflect the life you truly desire.

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