How to Stop Cravings

You want it. You can’t stop thinking about it. You must have it.

You keep visiting websites about it. You find it for sale online and your finger hovers over the button. You see it in a store and you almost can’t tear yourself away from picking it up and holding it in your hands.

Whatever that item is, you crave it. You want it so bad you can almost taste it.

However, giving into that craving without planning ahead for it is a sure way to disrupt your plans and your budget and your positive financial progress.

For me, the craving often revolves around books. I want to read the latest bestsellers. I want to take some of my most-loved and most-thought-provoking books and actually annotate the pages, almost as if they were a journal. I want to read and re-read books that I love and share them with friends.

I recognize the craving for what it is. It’s just a strong desire for something I don’t really need that, if I’m not careful, can grow out of control and cause me to toss aside sensible financial principles.

You might crave something else. Maybe it’s video games. Maybe it’s clothing. Maybe it’s fine wines. Maybe it’s craft beer. Maybe it’s hunting gear. I know people who crave all of those things.

Whatever that material item is that you crave, it’s a potential danger to your personal finances if you let it go unchecked.

Steps You Can Take to Stop Cravings

Don’t shop recreationally.

Don’t go into a store without a specific purchase in mind that you’ve already considered carefully and researched. Pick the item you want, buy it, and get out of there.

Stores are designed from the bottom up to encourage product desire and encourage you to buy things that you shouldn’t. Recreational shopping amounts to begging the stores to take money from you for things you don’t want. Just avoid it.

Don’t watch television without a specific program in mind.

Sure, there’s ads, but the problem is actually in the programs themselves. Almost every program on television is laden with product placement, from the beverage someone is drinking in a sitcom to the logos all over the place on sports programming. It’s all there to remind you of products and keep them in your head.

Don’t web browse without a specific purpose.

Again, the ads are the obvious part, but there are so many “stories,” particularly on news sites, that amount to little more than advertisements for a product. They glow about the latest gadget or the latest food product and make it sound like anyone who’s anyone must have it. Keep your web browsing to a specific purpose and minimize this junk.

Seek out entertainment that doesn’t involve material possessions.

Go to free concerts. Get involved in charities. Read books or watch movies from the library. Host dinner parties for your friends. Practice meditation or prayer. Dig deep into exercise.

All of these hobbies and activities are enjoyed without having to have “stuff.” The more you can do without “stuff” being a requirement, the less you’ll desire it.

Trent Hamm
Trent Hamm
Founder of The Simple Dollar

Trent Hamm founded The Simple Dollar in 2006 after developing innovative financial strategies to get out of debt. Since then, he’s written three books (published by Simon & Schuster and Financial Times Press), contributed to Business Insider, US News & World Report, Yahoo Finance, and Lifehacker, and been featured in The New York Times, TIME, Forbes, The Guardian, and elsewhere.

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