Expert says 'split brain spending' is to blame for impulse purchases

Are YOU guilty of ‘split brain spending’? Expert explains why we’re obsessed with saving money on basics like travel but WILL splurge on booze and clothes

  • Consumer spending has continued to rise despite rampant inflation
  • Experts say ‘split brain’ spending trend is to blame as shoppers continue to splurge on some things – despite drastically cutting back in other areas
  • READ MORE: Inside the flight where a WHISKEY shot costs as much as the ticket

If you’ve ever found yourself obsessed with searching for the cheapest flights before splurging all your money on the booze on-board, you might be guilty of ‘split brain spending.’

That’s the term being coined by experts to explain why we feel happy spending money on some things but resent shelling out for others.

The expression refers to the difference between the right and left side of the brain, with the former being responsible for our creativity and impulses while the latter is more logical and analytical. 

Shopping habits are increasingly being pulled in both directions as households radically try to cut back amid rampant inflation – yet cannot stop spending. 

Financial therapist Heather Pulier told ‘Our brain has this ability to categorize our finances into boxes that don’t really make sense. 

Financial therapist Heather Pulier said individuals tend to ‘cherry pick frugality’ as figures show consumer spending has remained high despite rampant inflation and red-hot interest rates 

‘I have one client who has a good income and can afford to hire help with her childcare. 

‘This is an expense that makes sense and would make her life easier. But she couldn’t even contemplate spending that money – yet she’ll spend the money on a new dress.’

She added: ‘We see it everywhere. Even Kate Middleton will be frugal with her clothes yet jet around the world with private security. We cherry-pick our frugality.’

The trend is prevalent among Generation Z on TikTok who frequently take to the social media app to share their impulse purchases.

This week ING chief international economist James Knightley warned that Americans were dangerously close to maxing out their credit cards.

A personal spending report from the bank in July found that personal spending had gone up by 0.8 percent since the month before.

This is despite the fact households are battling the highest interest rates in 22 years as the Fed’s benchmark rate now hovers between 5.25 and 5 percent. 

In a blog post, Knightley described the trend as ‘unsustainable’ adding ‘credit and borrowing costs are the highest since records began in 1972 so there’s going to be a lot of pain out there.’

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Experts say shopping habits are increasingly being pulled in both directions, as households radically try to cut back amid rampant inflation – yet cannot stop spending. Gen Z frequently take to TikTok to share their impulse purchases

But businesses are banking on customers’ ‘split brain’ approach to spending. 

This week, it emerged that budget airline Allegiant Air had started selling shots of Johnnie Walker Blue Label Whiskey for $35 each. It is just $3 less than the cost of its cheapest flight – a $38 one-way ticket between Las Vegas and Phoenix.

Pulier said: ‘In some ways we game-ify finding flight tickets. There are so many comparison sites, we can become competitive about finding the best deal.

‘We also book flights in advance. With big ticket spending, we tend to prioritize spending money on the things that are going to give us joy and comfort instantly.’ 

‘But when it comes to money, the last thing we need is a cocktail as alcohol loosens our attitudes to spending.’

This week, it emerged that budget airline Allegiant Air had started selling shots of Johnnie Walker Blue Label Whiskey for $35 each

Pulier recommends individuals leave the house with cash if they want to avoid overspending.

She said: ‘If you want to spend $500 on a dress, try spending that on cash.

‘Even if you’re still happy to spend the money, you will feel the significance of the purchase a lot more if you take money out and physically hand it over.

‘Credit cards have made it much easier for us to spend money without realizing it.’

Her comments come after America’s credit card debt swelled to $1 trillion for the first time in history. 

Data from the Atlanta Federal Reserve found credit card balances rose by $45 billion in the second quarter of the year.

Experts called the sum ‘staggering,’ with figures also revealing that credit card delinquencies had reached an 11-year high. 

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