What is emotional spending?
Emotional spending is when you buy something you don’t need, in some cases, don’t even really want. This happens because it improves the mood. Some people allow this to occur:
to cope with stress,
bring one out of a bored or listless mood,
to increase self-esteem,
to feel special
In fact, we even spend when we are happy. Do you remember what you bought yourself last time you got a raise or when you found out your BFF was going to have a baby?
The problem with emotional spending is that it happens on impulse. And when it’s allowed to keep happening then we spend more than we need to.
How to Get Emotional Spending Under Control
Acknowledge. Notice your feelings and circumstances when you are spending. Did you just finish get into an argument with someone? Have you just been sitting around not knowing what to do with yourself? Being aware of your feelings can help you understand the desire for instant gratification received from impulse shopping.
Stay away from Retail Shops. If you recognize the feelings that tempt you to spend, then it’s not a good time walk into the store or mall. Perhaps, its not time to peek online, too. Instead occupy your time with other inexpensive or free activities. Maybe going for a walk, spring cleaning, or talking with a friend.
Keep the Ads away. Less advertising, less spending. The ad campaigns on TV and paper are psychologically designed pull your full attention to their products. Deliberately, keep your exposure to the ads at a minimum.
Here is a list of things you can do to help keep the ads away:
Be aware of the small purchases that can quickly add up. A person will rationalize that small purchases are okay because it is cheap. The problem is when we buying items at small totals and think it’s okay. You’ll be suprised when you add up the sum of them all! (this is my total weakness!)
Budget for the cause. Set up a category for emotional spending (or the self fund) and budget a small amount of money towards the cause. It’s okay to occasionally spend for a ‘moment’ when its planned.
Try finding other activities. Go to the library to check out a great book to read. Have a friend over for lunch and a rental movie (highly recommend seeing It’s Complicated – Hilarious!). Give yourself a home spa treatment. Take a walk. Play a game of basketball with the kids. Get a group of friends and bring out the board games. There are many great ways to spend without spending any money.
We’ve all succumbed to emotional or impulse spending at sometime or another to try and lift a week moment or make up for a bad day, but when we make purchases we can’t afford, we end up feeling worse instead of elated. The next time you have a bad day or want to eleviate stress, try to acknowledge your feelings before you spend and question your motivation.
How do you cope when tempted with emotional spending? And if you did partake in impulse shopping did you bring back the item for a refund or take the financial loss?