Do you want to have guilt-free spending?

Hey, we are Marlene and Thuy. We want to create guilt-free spending for as many people as possible. Our question is, will YOU be one of them?

How in control of your spending are you feeling right now? You swear that starting today, you will curb your spending. And you really mean it. Until….

You spot an online ad for this adorable pair of sandals that is just irresistible. And even though it’s winter time, you convince yourself that you need a new pair for your next trip. Later, you walk through the Costco isles to find a huge sale on a beautiful Christmas tree that comes with built-in lights. And you tell yourself this is perfect, since it’ll save you time. PLUS, it’s so pretty.

Without thinking, you whip out your credit card, make your purchases and you feel great. Until a month later, when your bill arrives or you notice that your closets are running out of space. Then you remember your promise to curb your spending and your internal dialogue starts to kick in. “Oh boy…not again, I’m not good with money, I’m always over spending, I can’t stick to a budget, I have no will power”. The feelings of guilt start to kick in and you start to feel hopeless about trying to ‘control’ your spending.

When you’re done beating yourself up, you make another promise that today, you will start curbing your spending. This time, you decide to create a stricter budget and reduce the limit on your credit card. Until…

A birthday celebration or Valentine’s Day arrives. And the cycle starts over again. Is this beginning to sound like a Yo-Yo diet when it comes to your spending?

BUT WAIT! The good news is – it’s not you. All the will power in the world may not be enough. Blame it on your brain.

Let’s start by taking a look at our spending triggers.

  • Stress – studies show that shopping, aka ‘retail therapy’ is an effective way to relieve stress. It gives us a sense of ‘control’ and has also been proven to reduce blood pressure.
  • Emotional Events – when we experience feelings of happiness or sadness, we use shopping to either celebrate our happiness, or to relieve our feelings of sadness.
  • Special Events and Holidays – as a culture, we often celebrate special events and holidays with gift-giving, and this can lead to overspending.
  • Social Pressure – we may think you left your days of succumbing to social pressure in your teenage years, but our desire to keep up with others can continue to spur spending.
  • Credit Cards – give us access to spending money that we do not have. Psychologically, we also have an easier time spending on credit cards as opposed to cash because spending on credit doesn’t trigger pain.
  • Social Media – studies found that people tend to display less self-control after browsing a social network. And the more often people used Facebook, the greater their credit card debt was.
  • A Need to Please – when we buy things for others, we don’t take into consideration the price or whether we have the money for it or not. Our priority is about making sure the gift is thoughtful and what he/she will enjoy.
  • Retailer Tactics – beyond price discounts and sales tactics, retailers use multiple tactics such to trigger areas of the brain associated with impulsive thinking and buying.

As you go through this list, what are the triggers that prompt your spending?

We identified that our key triggers for spending were: social media, a need to please, and retailer tactics. One retailer tactic that has been working like a charm for us is Costco’s sampling, pricing, quality and return policy. We’re both foodies and love to eat and cook. So this is where Costco gets us! We caved into buying bulk quantities of everything…and even for food items that were not staples for us. And the worst part is we end up throwing out a lot of food because we can’t consume it all by expiration. This shopping behaviour led us to ‘waste’ our time, money and food. Oh, and then the feelings of guilt, frustration and disappointment kick in…

Can you relate to this? Or do you have a different experience with other spending triggers? If the answer is yes, then we’d like to share with you what’s been working for us.

Our 7 tips to Create Guilt-free Spending

  • Identify your spending triggers – review the spending triggers above and choose the ones that trigger your spending. Write down all the items that you end up buying. How much did you buy? Is there a reason for you to buy that particular quantity? By when do you plan on using it or consuming all of it?
  • Reflect on the impact of your spending – how did you feel in that moment when you made that purchase? And how did you feel about it afterwards? Did you have remorse about your spending? How do you feel about the amount of money you spent? Did your spending lead to arguments?
  • Reflection about money spent – how do you feel when you receive the bill? How do you feel about throwing away food and stuff that you could not consume in time or that you hardly even used? And have you ever made a connection between throwing out food and throwing out money? Is this a feeling that you would like to continue experiencing?
  • Reflection about time spent – how do you feel about the time that you spend shopping due to your triggers? How do you feel about spending time decluttering your space from your spending? Do you have an idea of how much time you spend shopping? Is this how you would like to spend your precious time?
  • Create new spending habits – start with simple steps to change when you are shopping, where you are shopping and the frequency. Choose a method of payment that prevents you from buying too much or buying more than what you can afford. And be mindful of the quantity that you are buying (even when there are deals) and focus on the benefits.
  • Practice your muscle of guilt-free spending – continue to discover more about your spending triggers. When you are shopping, acknowledge your triggers and ask yourself – is this spending as a result of my triggers or is this what I intended to buy? Depending on your trigger, you may want to ask yourself a different question before making the purchase. For example, do I have the money available to pay for my credit card bill after making this purchase? Do I necessarily need this quantity to take advantage of the BOGO promo? Should I really add more items to my shopping cart to get free shipping?
  • Celebrate your guilt-free spending – remember to acknowledge and be present with those good feelings every time you experience guilt-free spending.


We would love to hear your experience with spending triggers, and how you feel about it. And if you are ready to embrace guilt-free spending, let us know how we can support you. Share in the comments below.

With love and gratitude,
Marlene and Thuy

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Do you want more
Money + more Time?

Hey, We are Marlene and Thuy. We want to create more MONEY + more TIME for as many individuals as possible. Our question is, will YOU be one of them?

Marlene & Thuy

Marlene and Thuy have spent over 20 years in the financial industry helping individuals with their investment, insurances, lending needs and are former Financial Planner. Since then, they’ve discovered the missing link to money freedom because as they said: “Making more money and being financially savvy won’t necessarily give you the life you want – because money goes deeper than the numbers.” When you work with Marlene and Thuy, they will guide you through the deeper inner work to remove what is keeping you from having the life that they want.