Most of the spending mistakes we make can be traced back to random thoughts that didn’t sound dangerous at the time. So, here are four thoughts that can put a big dent in your wallet:

  • Thought #1: “I deserve a treat.” Thinking we deserve a pick-me-up when we’re stressed or depressed can send us down a slippery slope to financial ruin. Because a study in the journal Psychological Science found that we make more impulse buys when we’re feeling blue. We also tend to splurge when we’ve conquered a tough situation – and even after a good workout. We think we’re entitled to a reward.
  • Thought #2: “I’m not really a religious person.” A Duke University study found that non-religious people are more likely to buy expensive name-brand items – like designer handbags – than people who consider themselves religious or spiritual. Why? Because a person who doesn’t identify as religious or spiritual is looking for another way to express their identity. And often, that’s through brand name products.
  • Thought #3: “I’m a good person.” But a study in the Journal of Consumer Research found that when we’re feeling good about ourselves we’re drawn to fancy clothes, watches, and jewelry. Because the bling helps showcase our high self-esteem.
  • Thought #4: “I’m getting a big tax refund!” According to the book The Simple Dollar, it’s easy to mistake a tax refund – or any windfall – as “bonus” money to spend however we like. But it’s really just part of your income. So, we all need to plan ahead and come up with a system for dealing with the extra cash. Say, putting half in a retirement account, one-third in your emergency fund, and using the rest to pay down your credit card debt.