Jul 03 2024

Are you a spaver?

The personal finance space is no stranger to snappy slogans and catchphrases dreamt up by the internet community. One term enjoying a resurgence as cost-of-living pressures continue to bite into our bottom lines is “spaving”.

A hybrid of “spending” and “saving”, spaving refers to our tendency to convince ourselves that spending money is actually saving money. Does a ‘buy three, get one free’ deal stop you in your tracks? Even if you don’t need one of the product, let alone multiples? If so, you might be a spaver.


Bargain behaviour

The psychology of spaving is rooted in the instant gratification of getting a 'deal'. Retailers and marketers know how to create offers that seem too good to pass up, like “up to 50% off”, or time-limited deals. These strategies are designed to make you feel like you're saving money when you're really spending more than you intended or needed to.

Online stores that offer free shipping when you spend a certain amount of money create another potential spending pothole. You’re incentivised to keep adding items to your cart just to reach the minimum spend. You might save on shipping, but you could end up blowing your intended budget anyway.


High costs

Spaving can have a weighty impact on your personal finances. It encourages unnecessary spending and the accumulation of items that you don’t really need, or worse, even want. And if you’re using a credit card to spave, that could mean paying interest that far outweighs any money you might’ve saved.


Eight tips to avoid the urge to spave

  1. Stick to a list: Before going shopping, make a list of what you need and stick to it. This helps to avoid impulse buys and keeps your spending in check. If there’s a great deal for an item on your list, you can chalk that up as a win!

  2. The case for cash: Try leaving your cards at home and spending only cash. It's harder to part with physical money than swiping a piece of plastic that magically transports funds out of your account.

  3. Go on an unsubscribe spree: Unsubscribe from promotional emails and push notifications, particularly those that shout out the latest sales and deals from your favourite stores. Out of sight, out of mind, out of cart, as they say.

  4. Delete stored payment info: Make spending as inconvenient as possible by deleting your stored payment info and don’t save your credit card details when you do shop online. By the time you go and get your bank card and input the details the urge to purchase might have passed.

  5. Be more calculating: Stop and assess whether that deal is as good as it looks at first glance. Just because an item is on sale doesn't mean it's good value. Take a moment to consider if the discount truly adds value. Use a calculator if it helps! Check in with yourself too: would you have considered purchasing the item at full price?

  6. Wait a minute: Preferably longer. Personal finance experts suggest waiting a day or two before a potential purchase to give yourself time to think about whether you truly need the item or if you have something similar at home already. Ask yourself how you’ll feel about the purchase in six months, or a year.

  7. Consider the opportunity cost: Every dollar you spend on something you don’t need is a dollar you can’t use elsewhere. Think about the long-term benefits you could be missing out on, such as investing or saving for a goal.

  8. Reflect on the past: Look back at previous 'deals' you've taken advantage of. Have any actually contributed to your life in a meaningful way? Calculate just how much you’ve spent over the previous 12 months on items you don’t really need or haven’t used. It can be a sobering exercise that helps motivate you to put your card back in your wallet.