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Top Tips

Our five tips for managing your spending this Black Friday

Black Friday is a time when seemingly unbelievable offers of products for knock down prices can swamp us. If you're prone to periods of manic spending or use shopping as a way to self-sooth, this period can be really tricky. Here's how our friend Chris who lives with bipolar learnt to manage during this period.

Retail therapy isn’t just a saying, it’s a real thing, but unfortunately it can also be a sign that someone is unwell. But how do you stop someone who is on a spending spree?

Spending money when I am unwell is soothing, self-medicating and can feel like self-harming at times. The impulsivity is addictive and I feel a release when I spend money.

I certainly haven’t spent millions when I am unwell.

The most I’ve spent is about £1000 in a few days, which is still a lot of money.

When I’m going through a manic period, I become more impulsive or energetic; I do things that are slightly out of the ordinary for me. I recall one of my friends telling me that I serenaded her with Erasure from the other side of the street! I also recall once waking up on a bench in Vauxhall with very little recollection of how I got there.

To pre-empt this having an impact on my savings, I pay greater attention to my spending when I am feeling manic and I have some simple things I do to help stop me from getting into difficulty.

1) Keep the receipts

It doesn’t always matter if you feel like you can’t stop it, just keep the receipts. By keeping them it means I can return everything when I feel stable again. I’ve bought everything from Bonsai trees to theatre tickets for other people – there’s not really much logic in it at all!

2) Keep the tags on

It’s the same principle as the receipts – I can return them as soon as I feel stable again. I once bought a designer waistcoat that I really didn’t need and didn’t even fit me. When I got home, I didn’t want it, so the next week I returned it.

3) Try and eat something

Do you find that when you’re hungry, your weekly shop ends up containing lots of things you don’t really need? You end up buying things you would never normally buy! The same rule applies. If you are fuelled by coffee and cigarettes, the jittery, anxious, impulsive part of me definitely comes out.

For me, spending is a clear indicator that I am not well… but I have found that having these rules can keep me safe.

4) Protect your money

I transfer as much as I can into a savings account event month. This means I am left with just enough to keep me going, so I will never end up spending my whole pay cheque. The other beauty of a savings account (or bond) is that it takes a couple of days for the money to transfer back into my current account, and by then I usually feel stable again.

5) Be kind to yourself

We already have to deal with a lot of emotions and adding more on top of that isn’t a great idea. I try to be kind to myself and not to worry so much about what I have spent. If I follow all my rules everything can be sorted out and no real damage will be done.

For me, spending is a clear indicator that I am not well. Sometimes it’s hard for me to notice if I am unwell, as I am not always aware but I found that by having these rules I can keep myself safe.

Would you or a loved one appreciate practical support to help manage your money? Take a look at our practical advice and tools for how to budget.

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