Are You a ‘Hate Spender’? 4 Ways To Spend Happy Instead

Despite being concerned about their finances and the current state of the economy, Americans are showing no fear whatsoever when standing at retail cash registers or checking out their carts while shopping online.

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According to a report by Intuit Credit Karma, almost all Americans, 96%, are concerned about the current state of the country’s economy. Additionally, per the University of Michigan’s consumer survey for April, the Index of Consumer Sentiment dipped to 77.2 from 79.4 in March.

To cope with today’s many stresses, Americans are hate spending or doom spending, fully conscious of the high prices and immediate, often unfulfilling rewards. Despite everyone’s anxieties and fears, U.S. spending continues to trend upwards, rising 0.7% from February to March to $709.6 billion, per Census data estimates.

Why Are People Hate Spending?

While a lot of people are currently finding themselves in a rough financial situation, many are in better shape than they think. The U.S. labor market has been resilient over the past couple of years and wage growth is finally showing improvement, outpacing inflation in 2024 so far, according to Axios. Regardless of what’s going on in the world, the financially stable are still spending without regret.

Additionally, Americans might be simply fed up and have adapted to “the new normal” of post-pandemic high prices and inflation. “People have largely just accepted that the prices that are in the market right now are status quo,” said Claire Tassin, a retail and e-commerce analyst at Morning Consult. “We’ve acclimated to these inflated prices.”

Or perhaps people simply don’t want to feel defeated by the big things around them. Even though health concerns, unemployment, financial uncertainty or civil unrest impact us daily, Americans appear to be taking a “you only live once” attitude in spite of it all.

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4 Ways To Be a Happy Spender

People have used “retail therapy” to help soothe life’s little letdowns. As Emily Stewart, senior correspondent at Business Insider, said of spending behavior in a “hyperconsumerist society like the one we live in,” “Many of us have a tendency to look at a problem or frustration and think, ‘What can I buy about this?'”

Finding joy in your daily life and improving your outlook can be found by changing what you’re spending on, or not spending on.

1. Spend Money on Experiences

People are in constant pursuit of experiencing that initial thrill one gets when they buy something, but investing in material goods rarely brings lasting contentment. The pleasure once experienced dies quickly after possessing the item bought.

The key is to building lasting enjoyment is to spend on experiences that offer variety and novelty. As Forbes noted, “Another reason experiences eclipse things is that they often involve other people, and we like social interactions.”

2. Spend Money on Small Luxuries

Although shopping releases dopamine to the brain and makes us feel temporarily happy, feelings return to normal once we’ve adapted to our new purchase. Regardless of our financial problems, the fear of missing out and the desire to project a certain status by overspending is always a strong pull for humans.

Treating oneself to occasional little luxuries can make us happier than spending lavishly (and often thoughtlessly) on big-ticket items. Seeking out affordable splurges feel like rewards, not spending for the sake of spending. But use discretion. As Bloomberg Opinion columnist and editor Sarah Green Carmichael wrote, “A little luxury is a latte, not a four-figure bag.”

3. Spend Money on Others

If brief feelings of elation are quickly followed by overwhelming guilt over personal spending, making someone else happy is happy spending. “Another option is to spend money on non-necessities not for yourself, but for someone else,” suggested Reddit user alhambradulillah.

“You get practice spending money on things you don’t need, and any bad feelings from doing so can be cancelled out by the good feelings of being generous and thoughtful to friends and family.”

4. Spend Money on Accomplishments

“Putting yourself in a financial hole (by doom spending) isn’t smart or empowering,” said Green Carmichael. “Real self-care is creating and sticking to a budget.” Impulsive spending can be addictive, but for most people, it’s the easy way out in times of hopelessness.

You will be amazed at the happiness derived from pursuing learning, saving or accomplishing a tricky task or life goal. Even spending to free up time for yourself can be more pleasurable than a new trinket or toy. Staying focused on positive spending (or positive saving) will make you feel much happier, long after the fun of a quick fix purchase fades.

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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Are You a ‘Hate Spender’? 4 Ways To Spend Happy Instead

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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