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Breaking the Splurge Cycle: Overcoming Genetic Tendencies Of Overspending

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January 25, 2022


What’s Inside

Last Monday I woke up broke. 

I didn’t want to step out over the weekend, and cosied up in bed instead. Little did I know, my mindless scrolling would lead me to spend more than I would, if I stepped out.

The thrill of adding clothes and accessories I’d look great in, to my cart, was no less than bar hopping on Saturday night.

And hitting “purchase cart” only added to this.

In the end, we die.

But it was all temporary. Once the orders started getting delivered, I realised how much I’d spent. And on things I didn’t need.

I splurged only because I felt good.

It’s like I was in a trance. Usually, our financial decisions are not in our control. Recent researches show that both genetics and hormones have a role to play in our financial decision-making skills. Our genes decide if we are savers or spenders.

Primarily, genes relating to dopamine and serotonin play an important part in financial foundations. Upbringing and experiences are strong factors too in understanding why we behave the way we do with money. 

 So, the next time you want to know why you feel that way after buying something, look into these: 

Dopamine - The "you go girl" hormone

Dopamine might come across as your friend, always telling you to reward after a difficult week, but beware!

You deserve to be rewarded, but not always by spending. Cooking a good meal or getting great sleep are also rewards, fyi!

Serotonin - The “I gotcha back” hormone

This hormone doesn’t care if you spend. It’s associated with coping mechanisms and making you feel good when you aren’t feeling all that great. 

Many people connect spending with this hormone but there are so many (free) ways to feel better. Breaking a sweat is the best way to so, but talking to friends, or doing a group activity can make you feel better without spending.

Adrenaline - The “go crazy now!” hormone

Adrenaline is that friend of yours who wants you to shoplift candy just for the kick of it. You don’t even like candy, and you have the money for it, but you do it anyway.

Have you ever caught yourself spending on unplanned things at the speed of light? It’s probably this hormone. The best way to keep this hormone in check is to wait it out before you make a purchase

Funnily enough, these hormones work differently for different people. Some (lucky) people get to experience a happy hormone boost when they see their savings go up. The unlucky ones can try to balance their instincts by tricking their brains a bit.

Luckily, there’s a way out of this pit!

While we wait for gene therapy, there are other ways to go beyond your biological make-up.

The constant balance of Nature and Nurture is present in your financial behaviour too. And luckily for us, we can tame that splurging bug by creating a few habits.
  1. You can try delaying gratification, it increases anticipation, boosting adrenaline and serotonin. This gives you higher satisfaction, without spending more.
  1. Next, The Scarcity Principle creates an illusion of scarcity, making you value money more. Thinking about how little you have for something instead of how much you have in general can go a long way in saving.
  1. Lastly, try creating a routine. Having a routine of good sleep, exercise, and eating stabilises your hormones and can save you from those sudden shopping needs. 

 I understand that having control over hormones isn’t easy. While tricking yourself is super difficult, it’s still easier than blowing your money and going broke for the last week of the month!


Fi Money is not a bank; it offers banking services through licensed partners and investment services through epiFi Wealth Pvt. Ltd. and its partners. This post is for information only and is not professional financial advice.
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