One of the most powerful motivators is fear. If you are afraid, you are more likely to be pushed into making a decision. This includes your spending decisions. There are a number of ways that fear can motivate your spending choices. In some cases, that fear encourages you make spending decisions that might not actually the best thing for you.

Here are some of the fears that advertisers and others like to use in order to get you to spend your money:

Fear that You’ll Miss a Good Deal

Many ads use a sense of urgency to encourage you to make certain spending decisions. What happens if you miss out? Will this good deal come again? Or will you be left out in the cold? Advertisers push a sense of urgency, telling you that something is only available for a limited time, or that there are limited quantities of something.

You think that if you don’t spend now, you will never get the chance again. That fear of missing a good deal can be very powerful, especially for proud bargain hunters. However, you need to ask yourself whether you really were planning on buying it. Getting something just because you think it’s a good deal and you’re afraid of missing out isn’t smart shopping; you’re spending money you hadn’t planned to spend. You’re not really saving at all.

Fear that You’ll Be Left Out

Another concern is that you’ll be left out. We like to be able to feel as though we’re part of something, and that we are keeping up with others. Sometimes, we spend money just to avoid being left out. If some of your friends are going to a pricey dinner, it’s tempting to go and spend money — even if  you don’t particularly like the restaurant.

The same is true of buying a nice car, or a big TV. We commonly call this “keeping up with the Joneses.” Unfortunately, the Joneses are probably in debt, and following their example will only put you in debt, too. Instead of worrying that you will be left out, consider what’s really important to you, and spend money on those things.

Fear that You Won’t Get What You “Deserve”

Ads make a big point to encourage you to feel as though you “deserve” certain things. Are you afraid that you aren’t getting what you’re entitled to? We like to think that we deserve a day at the spa, or to live in a big house. We think our kids deserve fun new toys and gadgets. It can be a source of fear to think that life is passing us by. What if you never get to go to Disney World? That fear that you are missing out on life experiences that you deserve, and that you should have, can drive you to make unwise spending decisions.

In the end, you need to acknowledge your fears, and get to the bottom of your spending motivations. Honestly consider why you are spending that money. If you are motivated by fear, take a step back, and recognize that. Then close your wallet and refuse to spend based on that fear.

Tom Drake

Tom Drake

Tom Drake writes for Financial Highway and MapleMoney. Whenever he’s not working on his online endeavors, he’s either doing his “real job” as a financial analyst or spending time with his two boys.