Tuesday, 31 December 2013

3 ways to control your spending in 2014

Science has thrown up some fascinating facts about how the brain operates when we're in consumer mode, and the processes at work when people over-spend. 

Apply some science to control your spending

There are three main factors at work - and to watch out for - if you want to keep spending under control in 2014:

1. Biological Factors: Don’t go shopping if you’re hungry, pre-menstrual or have just emptied your bladder.

You may not realise that your physiology is affecting your behaviour. But when you're hungry you will buy more food and make higher calorific choices at the supermarket. When in an anxious state you will be more likely to impulse-buy. That's because the physical state of high arousal leads to a depletion of the resources that govern self-control. And fluctuations in activity in the brain’s orbitofrontal cortex during the menstrual cycle will make you more likely to go on a spending spree when premenstrual. And more rational and controlled post-ovulation. Even an empty bladder affects your brain’s control mechanisms. Science has shown you’ll be more likely to (sorry) splash out if you’ve just spent a penny. So pay attention to your body before hitting the shops, it may be telling you to hold fire.
Try timing shopping trips with your menstrual cycle and avoid the pre-menstrual phase
2. Emotional factors: Don’t shop if you’ve just had a row, a stressful day or been dumped by your boyfriend.

People experience a range of emotions (anger, fear, sadness) in their daily lives and engage in all sorts of behavioural responses to keep them in check.  Some women find shopping gives them an emotional outlet, the way that alcohol or drugs can do for others. It distracts them from negative feelings and provides comfort in the form of a treat or reward. In fact studies of compulsive buying have shown that its prime function is to repair mood. So spot when emotions are running high and find an alternative way of releasing them. Find  distraction through exercise or relaxation, or seek social support by spending time with friends. Concentration, whether on gardening, painting or rock-climbing, is also a good way to absorb negative emotions. And the Do Something Different approach to behavioural change could help see you through the tough times because it's all about about breaking habits and increasing behavioural flexibility.
Buyer's remorse is like a shopping hangover
3. Cognitive factors: Don’t go shopping with low self-esteem and an “I deserve it attitude”.

Impulse purchases can trigger a lot of self-justification in the consumer, to assuage the guilt of over-spending. Their thoughts echo with the messages that have been implanted by constant brain-washing and bombarding marketing campaigns. Thoughts such as “Why shouldn’t I have it?” “I work hard I deserve it” “My friends will love me for it” and so on. Self-talk can also shift the focus onto the wrong things, “I’m saving £100 by buying this in the sale” (instead of, “I’m spending £200 I don’t have") or even "I'll show him!" Some cognitive reframing can help here. Relabel your credit card your debt card. Silently answer the ad-men back. Recall when you last had buyer’s remorse and tell yourself how you’ll feel tomorrow. And find ways to boost your self-esteem so that you can resist the constant bombardment of persuasive messages. 
Few people greet a large credit card bill with the words, “Because I’m worth it”.

Monday, 16 December 2013

7 Signs that you are suffering from Gift Creep

OK, so you've finished your Christmas shopping . or have you? 

Will you be tempted to buy your friend that 'little extra'? Or find you've bought more presents than you needed and add to the relatives' pile?

Can't stop at one gift per person? 
You may be suffering from gift creep.

People rarely seem to give each other just one present these days. We hedge our bets and give two, or even three, gifts in the hope that one of them will hit the right note.

More than a third (35%) of people say they're disappointed with how the gifts they've bought look when wrapped up and fall victim to 'gift creep', splashing out on last-minute additions, according to research by Currys & PC World.

And nearly a quarter (23%) of people in their survey reported worrying that the other person has spent more, which can lead to nipping out for that little 'extra something'.  

It seems some of us just don't know when to stop shopping!

I've called this behavioural phenomenon ‘gift creep’ and this week, as we get closer to Christmas, is the danger period when we can fall victim to it and start piling on the presents. And that can really add to the cost of Christmas.

Here are my 7 signs you are suffering from Gift Creep:

   1.   You’ve finished your Christmas shopping but still buy little ‘extras’ every time you go out

   2.   You worry someone won’t like what you’ve bought them, so you add another gift (like some luxury chocolates) on top to soften the effect

   3.   Before someone visits at Christmas you look around to see if there’s anything else you could give them

   4.   After wrapping all your gifts you feel anxious that the size and number of parcels looks a bit on the small side

   5.   You lie awake at night totting up how much you’ve spent on people - then try to even up the numbers so as not to appear stingy

  6.   You’re all spent out …. but can’t resist those last minute stocking fillers at the till

   7.   You buy a gift for someone, forgetting you've already bought them something, and end up giving them both

So if you've finished, try to draw a line under the shopping and say 'enough's enough'! 

Otherwise, gift creep creeps up year-on-year until it reaches unmanageable, and un-financeable, levels.

To help present buyers, get their presents right this Christmas, Currys & PC World has launched a special Gift List service. The online tool makes getting the right gift easy and, as well as helping you pick the best presents, every day someone will win their entire Gift list throughout the festive period.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Buy, give and give again!

Is there someone in your life who’s ‘impossible to buy for’?
Or a person who deserves an extra special gift?

How about the gift of happiness?

Do Something Different (the movement co-founded by Professor Karen Pine) has teamed up with Action for Happiness to create Do Happiness. It’s all about less moaning and more appreciating.  Less rushing around and more stopping and smelling the mince pies. More turning frowns upside down.

And when you buy one happiness programme you automatically create a free one for someone who can’t afford it. So it’s smiles all round.

Do Happiness is a six-week programme of small personalised actions (Do’s) designed to supercharge your happiness levels - and spread happiness to others.

How does it work?
It’s simple. The Do-er does a quick online happiness questionnaire. Then they are sent daily Do’s: powerful actions designed by psychologists, and picked especially for them, to act upon. And access to a Do Zone in which to log and share them.

Do's are small positive actions that arrive by text and/or email

How much does it cost?
Do Happiness costs £15 for a six-week programme – a total of 32 daily Do’s sent by email and/or text. That’s less than the cost of a massage for something that lasts much longer and isn’t so oily. Each programme that’s started automatically releases one free of charge to a less-fortunate person on the list. That’s the first act of kindness. And there are more smile-generating acts to follow.

Show your friends and family some happy love
Plant some extra happiness in your own life, or that of friends and family, and watch the happiness blossom and grow right into next year, one Do at a time.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Happiness. The best gift you can give.

Imagine a gift that lasts and lasts. that doesn't sit on a shelf. or get eaten. OR get taken back to the shop.

 One that brings happiness not for a fleeting moment. But for weeks or months.
Imagine treating a loved-one to that for just £15 - and at the same time gifting it to a person somewhere who can't afford it.
That's what's behind the Do Happiness Programme. The latest joyful offering from Do Something Different and Action for Happiness. 
Do Happiness
 from the latest blog at www.dsd.me :
Created with our friends at Action for Happiness, Do Happiness is a six-week programme of personally tailored small actions (Do’s) designed to help you to develop more happiness for yourself and for the people around you.
How does it work?
It’s simple. You carry out our quick online happiness questionnaire. We then send you daily Do’s: psychologically powerful actions designed by our expert psychologists and picked especially for you to help bring more happiness into your life.
How will it help you to be happier?
The programme has been created around Action for Happiness’ 10 keys to happier living. Based on the latest research, the 10 keys are things that have been see to consistently make people’s lives happier and more fulfilling. Together they spell “GREAT DREAM”:
  • Giving
  • Relating
  • Exercising
  • Appreciating
  • Trying out
  • Direction
  • Resilience
  • Emotion
  • Acceptance
  • Meaning
Your Do Happiness programme will give you Do’s that will help you to explore any of the keys that might be lacking in your life, together with some inspirational quotes. All in all you get 32 Do’s over six weeks, with each one inviting you to do things that are known to increase happiness in our lives, and the in the lives of people around us. Some of them will be quite small, like appreciating things around you for example. Others, like carrying out a random act of kindness or contacting someone from the past you have lost contact with, might take a little courage.
Taken together, your Do’s will help you to practise happy habits almost every day for six weeks. Practise making scones or playing badminton for six weeks and you’ll find you’re much better at it by the end. The same applies to happiness!
Share the happiness
Everyone on the Do Happiness programme can share comments in our Do Zone and help one another along. Individuals might choose to sign up with a friend or family member and do it together. It’s also great for small companies or departments within companies who want to boost morale or just have some fun together.
We give one away free for everyone who joins
Because we don’t think money should get in the way of happiness, every place that's bought generates a place for someone that can’t afford it. 
People who can’t afford it can register on the waiting list to get a place as soon as it comes available. 
What’s more, people who buy a place instantly help someone who needs it, which means they’re spreading happiness as soon as they sign up.
How much does it cost?
Do Happiness costs £15 for a six-week programme – a total of 32 daily Do’s sent by email (and/or text to your mobile phone if you’re inside the EU). That’s less than the cost of a massage for something that lasts a lot, lot longer.
Boost your happiness today
Bring some extra happiness into your life, your family and friends’ lives or your business, and look forward to more happiness, one Do at a time.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Join a new community of women entrepreneurs

I (Simonne) am very excited about a trip to Guildford on Tuesday 19th November to speak at an event with the Hub Dot. It would be great if you could join us.

Connecting through Children
A coffee morning unlike anything you’ve seen before

Tuesday 19th November
9.30am PROMPT ‘til 11.30am
at Anthropologie,
149 High Street Guildford,GU1 3AD

Tickets are £10 and must be purchased in advance.

I connected with Simona Barbieri, the founder of The Hub Dot through a client of mine and felt an immediate resonance with her and the refreshing approach of her concept. We felt a synergy - both of us coming from, what she described as, a 'soulful business’ perspective.
Simona started the Hub Dot last year when she was looking for a new approach to networking where women could come together and support each other and, most importantly, meet for real, rather than in an online environment. So she sent out an email to friends, family and colleagues inviting them to her house for an informal coffee morning.
To help people engage with each other, she created the concept of wearing coloured dots, denoting not who you are but how you would like to engage. 
For example, a red dot means “I’m established – whether in business, career or motherhood – please feel free to ask more”; a yellow dot means “I have an idea, can anyone help”. By wearing any combination of five coloured dots, participants had an easy way in to conversations without anyone labeled or categorised.
The first event was a phenomenal success and since then Hub Dot has snowballed into an international community of inspiring businesswomen, with regular events in London and Naples and more planned for other major cities. 
Events are of very different shapes and sizes, but all use the same formula of the coloured dots and a range of speakers, who speak for just a few minutes – not selling their brand but sharing their stories with honesty and integrity and a great sense of fun.
I’m delighted to be able to be a part of it, and if you’re in the Guildford area next Tuesday please register to join us:
Tickets are £10 and must bepurchased in advance.
If you’re not, do check out the films on the Hub Dot website for a taste of these upbeat and uplifting occasions.
Thanks. Simonne Gnessen  Simonne@financial-coaching.co.uk