Despite inflation driving up the cost of almost everything, Americans are spending money, and not just on essentials. Average monthly spending on recreational activities increased from $151 in December 2021 to $173 in February 2022, according to recent data from Morning Consult. People are spending more to visit museums, attend sporting events and concerts, and buy reading materials and crafts.
Some experts call it ‘revenge spending’ or trying to make up for two years without being able to get out spending more than they usually would on recreational activities. People, more or less, are looking to buy happiness, says Nashira Lynton, a certified financial advisor and Breaking Cycles CEO.
“I hear a lot about people recovering from the pandemic who are looking for all the things that bring them joy,” she says. “They are feeling a part of themselves that has been suppressed for a long time. When all is said and done, many are spending again, which we know causes more long-term financial stress.”
Brands are seeing how excited consumers are to get started again, says Ashley Agnew, director of relationship development at Centerpoint Advisors.
“Reopening the world is a marketer’s dream, so consumers see messaging in places they don’t even realize, validating their desire to spend money to make up for lost time,” she says.
here’s how behave responsibly.
The term “planned fun” may resurrect the image of an awkward office party, but when it comes to your personal life and finances, planning is smart and can bring you more joy than spending without. think.
“Setting aside ‘fun’ money in your cash flow plan not only helps you enjoy the experience, but also helps you avoid having to deal with the financial stress of overspending later,” Lynton says on Breaking Rounds.
If you’re not sure where to start, try making a few “short lists” at the start of each month, Agnew says.
- What three feelings do I want to have this month?
- What three things do I want to spend this month that will help me achieve those feelings?
- What three activities do I want to do this month that don’t cost money?
Answering these questions is “particularly helpful for those who aren’t great at working with numbers and budgeting so they can align their spending with their values,” Agnew says.
“Looking at the total of what’s left after savings and paying bills will be a good speed bump,” she says. “Keep the number somewhere accessible as a reminder throughout the pay period to refer to when you’re thinking of making a purchase.”
Keeping that amount on hand can help you keep your expenses down, but so can you gauge the joy the purchase itself will bring you.
“Before you make the purchase, ask yourself, ‘How will I feel about this purchase in three days? In a week?'” says Agnew.
Go back to the lists you wrote at the beginning of the month and see if this purchase aligns with the feelings you want to have that month.
Video by Lauren Shamo
If you are someone who is driven by mantras, think of a few that can keep you from spending on revenge. Agnew suggests the following:
- “Possessions are not the only dictator of my happiness”
- “I deserve my future goals”
- “I control my money and I control this decision”
- “My financial decisions are mine”
Remember that not all expenses are bad. The key is moderation.
“Deprivation is not a healthy financial habit either, and excessive saving can also be a bad habit, believe it or not; hoarding is indeed a disorder that can also apply to money,” says Agnew.
If a purchase brings you joy and is within your means, there is no need to to feel guilty of her purchase, she says, “Rewarding yourself with something that will see you through the year ahead isn’t a bad thing if it’s within your budget and aligns with your values and goals.”
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