Episode Transcript:

Welcome back to the Meadowsweet Money podcast! If you are new here, my name is Mimi Cirbusova. I’m not only your host of this podcast, I am also a Certified Financial Education Instructor and shame-free money mentor.

I’m here to walk alongside you as you climb the Money Mountain. Think of me as your little sherpa, pointing out the potholes and the shortcuts along your personal finance journey.

I took a look before recording today’s episode and I was so excited to see that there are now 18 states where we have listeners, plus a couple folks in the U.K. and Canada. That is just so incredible! And thank you so much for tuning in.

On today’s episode, we’re talking about something that is like my top 5 list of things I would present about if someone asked me to give a TED talk. Because, honestly, I am on a mission to change the way we talk about this topic. And that is spending triggers.

It is August, by the way, and so if you hear the cicadas outside my window, I apologize in advance.

Thank you so much for being here, my friend. I am just so excited to share this time with you. So let’s dive in.

We’re jumping right into today’s episode to talk about spending triggers. Spending triggers are such a massive part of what I discuss, because I absolutely hate the way most people talk about them.

Let me backup and share a little bit about what spending triggers are. These are situations, emotions, circumstances, or even people that tempt you to spend money in ways that are unplanned, and often regrettable or forgettable.

Everyone has spending triggers, and all of our spending triggers are different. And we all have very different responses to those spending triggers. Some of us tense up and put a ton of energy into resisting these triggers. Some of us listen to our spending triggers without a second thought or even a realization that we are doing it…until much later of course, when we have overspent.

This is the reason I get my britches in a twist about it (that’s a southern phrase for ya). More often than not, spending triggers are talked about as this enemy of our ideal, financially-savvy life. Spending triggers are presented as this sneaky, evil, sinister impulse, designed to undermine your every goal. And I honestly believe that’s why so many people feel helpless and defeated when they can’t seem to get control of their spending triggers.

But in this episode, I want to completely flip that idea on its head. Instead, I want you to forget everything you think you know about spending triggers. Because I don’t believe spending triggers are enemies. If anything, spending triggers are informants of our needs, or even advocates for our wellbeing. The challenge is that we have been conditioned to meet our needs through consuming.

But spending triggers don’t have to undermine you when you know how to work with them. And that’s what we’re going to discuss today.

As human beings, we all have needs. These needs can be physiological, spiritual, emotional, social, and so on. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I am pretty keen on looking at neuroscience to answer some of our biggest questions regarding personal finance. Anyway, let’s look at some of these common needs and how spending triggers can show up.

A lot of spending triggers are related to our physiological needs. Things like food, water, sleep, safety, and stability or security…that kind of thing.

Let’s take a common trigger, and probably one my own loudest spending trigger: that is, hunger. I simply do not make good decisions when I am hungry. For the longest time, I skipped breakfast. And part of that was because I was often in a hurry getting up in the morning and going to work or to school, and about all I had time for was a cup of coffee or tea. So by the time 11:00 am rolled around, I was usually starving…I mean my body had been fasting for so many hours! And our brains need calories to function properly. So my hunger spending trigger would pop up just about every day around 11:00 am, and I would be high tailing it to my car to hunt down something for lunch. Mind you, this pattern was taking place all pre-pandemic, and it certainly didn’t hurt that this was a convenient excuse to escape some toxic coworkers…who, coincidentally, are also harder to deal with on an empty stomach.

For years, I let this spending trigger drive the bus. It was trying so hard to send me the message, “hey, Mimi, you need calories. Your brain is shutting down, and you can’t make decisions anymore.” This resulted in way overspending and a lot of regrettable lunches, happy hours, and dinners out. I had to learn to work with this spending trigger. So I made some changes. One was realizing that I am pretty awful at listening to my hunger cues until it’s far too late.

Rather than fight against my hunger spending trigger, I started bringing a water bottle everywhere, and stashing some small snacks in my purse and in my desk. I also had to build up to eating breakfast every day. If you are a person that doesn’t stomach eating when you first wake up, you know exactly what I’m talking about. With my morning tea, I’d munch on breakfast cookies or slightly sweet crackers. Over time, I got used to starting my day with a little something in my stomach, and by 11:00 am, I was able to make better decisions regarding lunch.

I also began bringing my lunch to work. And to reduce the mental load of packing my lunch every day, I made a plan to buy five frozen meals a week. On Mondays, I would bring the whole bag to work and stash it in the freezer – meaning I had options and fewer excuses to throw up my hands and do a quick trip through the drive thru. I also enlisted a colleague to join me on this endeavor, which really helped. Even if they weren’t packing lunch, they committed to at least eat with me in the break room.

My hunger spending trigger is still one that comes up more often than any other, but it has a very important purpose of communicating my body’s needs. By listening to its messages, and using creative, proactive systems, I’m able to meet my needs and stay on track with my money goals. Is it perfect 100% of the time? Certainly not, but it’s leaps and bounds better than ever.

Many of us can have spending triggers related to situations or people. Human beings are social creatures after all. Whether we realize it or not, the behavior of those around us can be infectious. I remember I went through a period of time where all my friends were buying homes and I started getting a little antsy that I wasn’t actively saving up for a downpayment to buy a house in that season of my life. But once I recognized what was happening, I closed Zillow and calmed down a little bit.

I’m sure you’ve witnessed this too – suddenly everyone you know seems to be buying a new car, or getting a new job, or going on lavish vacations. And you might feel a bit of FOMO. By the way, FOMO is a legit spending trigger that pops up quite often for many of my clients, and one of my bigger spending triggers personally. Awareness of it helps a lot. And I find myself asking “Do I really want this, or is it that I’ve just been seeing all my friends getting this?” If you’re part of a group or a club of some sort, this spending trigger can be all the more potent. Again, the FOMO spending trigger (fear of missing out) isn’t trying to sabotage you. It really wants to shed light on areas of your life that you feel pressure or insecurity. I want to note here that marketing companies and sales professionals work very hard to get this spending trigger to pop up for people, many times by employing false urgency, or telling you how popular a product is. So sometimes asking, “who profits from my desire for this?” can kind of shake off that momentary impulse.

Now I certainly could talk about this for ages, and I’m sure I will do another podcast episode in the future about spending triggers, but what I really hope you glean from all this, dear listener, is that the goal isn’t to fight or struggle against your spending triggers. In fact, I think doing so leads to an unhealthy cycle of deprivation, imagined scarcity, followed by impulsive behaviors, which then lead to feelings of shame and guilt. So let’s not do that!

Instead, I really encourage you to start talking to your spending triggers. Get curious about them. What are they trying to tell you? What needs are you ignoring or satiating with regrettable and forgettable purchases? To be clear, this is a journey. It’s gonna take time to get familiar with what your spending triggers are trying to say, and again, the goal isn’t to eliminate them. But rather, I hope you can have a less adversarial relationship to your spending triggers. My greatest hope is you can start listening to them in a productive way that helps you meet your needs while also staying on track with your financial goals.

Anyway, I hope this was helpful for you. I hope you had a few a-ha’s here and there. And if so, I would love to hear from you. Please send me a message on Instagram, or share this episode with a friend.

Shall we dive into the next segment? Yeah, I think so too.

Now is time for one of my favorite segments: In Case You Missed It.

It is the end of August, and there’s only a few more days left of the August No Spend Challenge. Y’all, I’m gonna miss it when it’s over. I love talking to everybody that is participating. Y’all are such incredible humans. I love hearing your stories, and watching you really conquer your money goals. It just makes my heart so full.

Now, if you did not join us for the No Spend Challenge this month, don’t worry – we will be doing more of them in the future, so stay tuned.

But in the meantime, I wanted to make sure you knew that I also have a YouTube channel. If you’re loving this podcast, and want more free content, be sure to head on over. I am going to leave a link in the show notes. Don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss a single video.

The other thing I want to mention is that if you are not getting my free monthly newsletter, now is the perfect time to sign up. Those usually come out around the time of the new moon. I had a really sweet reply from a follower that said my newsletter was the perfect mix of money encouragement and recommendations. Be sure to check the show notes for a link to sign up.

And when you subscribe, you get access to our monthly Tea Room. It’s a free virtual meetup for one hour on a Sunday afternoon each month, and you get the chance to share your money wins, and talk about the financial stuff that makes us all a little weird and uncomfortable, but we get to do that with like-hearted people that are here to support and encourage you. So please join us. Our next one will be September 3rd, but the only way you get access to it is by signing up for the email newsletter.

Ok, let’s talk about something that’s making my life easier and better right now, and you might enjoy it too.

Yes, friends, this is the Easier and Better segment of the podcast, which is an opportunity for me to just share something that I am loving.

Today I want to talk about the website, DoesTheDogDie.com. Again, none of this is sponsored. They do not know I exist. But this website has made picking movies and tv shows so much easier. See, I am a big weenie when it comes to scary stuff. I should clarify; I have a very active and vivid imagination. It does not take much for even a phrase in conversation, or a small lyric from a song to get completely warped out of proportion and turn into a nightmare. And I don’t sleep well anyway, so waking up from bad dreams on a regular basis is just a no-go. I’m a sensitive soul, what can I say?

The beauty of the Does The Dog Die website is that you can look up movies and tv shows to check for trigger warnings. And because they have all sorts of categories that most review sites would never bring up, and it’s all crowdsourced…this is just incredibly helpful.

The trigger warnings don’t spoil the movie because it’s just a yes or no on the specific categories they make available. And some users will provide an explanation or comment, which you can read if you want. But like, if you’re sensitive to the sound of tires squealing, the sounds of people chewing, or large age gaps with romantic relationships being depicted, maybe really hate movies where the dog does die…I mean, there’s over 120 categories…you can use this site to weed out any tv shows or movies that feature those things you’d rather skip.

Anyway, if you are like me and you are really sensitive to certain content, or if you have someone in your life that needs it, I strongly suggest checking out DoesTheDogDie.com.

Alright. Let’s move on to our last segment of the show, the Mindful Money Moment.

Let’s end today’s episode with taking a deep breath.

If it feels good, roll your shoulders a little bit. Have you been clenching your jaw? Have you been furrowing your brow? Are your shoulders way up by your ears? Take a moment and check in with your body. It’s okay to allow your body to relax a little. It works so hard for you each and every day. For the next couple of minutes, let’s give it a little break.

Friend, I gotta confess – my truly favorite part of my job as a money mentor is cheering you on as you reach your financial goals; no matter what they might be. Including those goals that make your mom’s face scrunch up in a weird way. Or the goals your friends think are ridiculous. Or the goals that your sister teases you about (but I mean, who cares what she thinks anyway).

Today’s mindful money moment is that you are allowed to pursue any financial goal you want. Including the ones that don’t make sense to anyone else. Your family and friends can think your savings goals are absolutely ludicrous, and you can save for them anyway.

Your goals aren’t for them.

The point of what I call joyful budgeting is to make room in your life for the things that set your soul on fire. To make a plan, and pursue it ruthlessly.

I’ve watched so many people chase goals that seemed absolutely impossible to others, or even were the butt of jokes. I’ve had clients go after financial goals that nobody in their lives totally understood. Things like saving for tattoos from an artist on the other side of the country. Or saving up to quit their job to travel in an RV for a year. Or in my own case, leaving a secure paycheck job with lots of good benefits to become an entrepreneur and promote shame-free personal finance to the people that needed it the most.

Is there a goal that keeps you up at night? Something that you just can’t stop dreaming about? Maybe it’s something you’re terrified to share. Or maybe it’s a goal that other people might find unrealistic or unattainable.

Friend, I’m not going to tell you that it’s gonna be easy, or that you’re even guaranteed to make it happen. John Lennon famously said that life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.

But I want to leave you with a quick thought: it’s okay if no one else understands your financial goals. They’re not climbing the same mountain as you. Push back and criticism doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong or that you should not have these goals in the first place.

Living authentically and on purpose has a cost. But so does living a life that’s smaller than necessary. You get to choose which costs you’re willing to pay. And it hurts to get the criticisms and the comments, I get that completely. But it’s okay to remind those people that the way you choose to live your life isn’t a judgment on their lives either.

So whatever your goals, I’m here for it, babe. Let’s do this. And if you need someone to cheer you on because no one else will, I’m here for you.

Thank you for listening to the Meadowsweet Money Podcast, a production of Meadowsweet Money LLC. If you enjoyed today’s episode, please leave a 5-star review on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen. It helps others find our podcast and is greatly appreciated. And be sure to follow us so you don’t miss a single episode.

For more shame-free personal finance content, visit meadowsweetmoney.com.

Thanks for listening. You’re doing great, and I’m so proud of you.