For many people in debt, emotional spending is the cause of that debt and it can feel like a never ending cycle. You may owe a lot of money to creditors and sometimes to deal with that stress you may shop. So the question is, how do you manage emotional spending?
I previously never considered myself as an emotional spender because I equated emotional spending with sadness and depreciation. And when I am feeling sad or depressed, the last thing I want to do is shop. It just makes me feel worse because my body image gets all distorted. But what I did not realize is that my emotional spending was tied to different emotions. They were tied to feelings of being overwhelmed, where I purchased solutions to help me regain control without a real plan to deal with those feelings. Additionally if I was feeling really happy, all of a sudden I liked everything I saw and felt like I deserved/had to have it.
So, different emotions, but still emotional spending.
Here are a few tips on how to manage emotional spending.
Be Self Aware About your emotional spending
It is important to understand your feelings when you start shopping for things out of the blue. If all of a sudden you catch yourself with a shopping cart full of things, when you only walked into Target for one item, pause for a moment. Try and think about the emotions you are feeling at that moment. Are these items that you actually had in mind to buy or out of nowhere you are shopping for a DIY project, when you have no time to DIY.
Determine the Bigger Problem and Get Help
Sometimes there is a big problem that you need to solve but you can not figure out how to solve the problem. So instead, you try and fix small aspects of the problem without tackling the real issue. That will put you into a never ending loop where your issues go unresolved.
Years ago, when I moved into my apartment, I remember constantly buying a bunch of knickknacks because I hated the way my apartment was decorated. I would take the items home and would be sure that this one little lamp was going to turn my space from drab to fab, just like on TV. But the real issue was that I had no vision for my apartment that I could execute. I found an interior decorator, became her first ever client, and she helped me create that executable vision. Without her, I would be living in an apartment full of junk and would have spent WAY more money than I did working with her.
Remove the Triggers
Since emotional spending is different for everyone, the triggers will be also be different. The key is to determine what your trigger is and PROACTIVELY remove them. If it is a certain store that you pass by on your way home, take a different route. If it is boredom, get a hobby that does not involve you buying a lot of new things to be good at it.
I know my triggers and therefore I limit my in-store shopping at Target or Walmart for personal or household items. Instead I shop online for those same things. No more strolling down the aisle seeing all the cute new home items, that don’t actually fit in with my decor, or all of the new black hair care products for naturalistas. Now, I stick to buying everything online, and from the “buy again” section. That has saved me tons of money!
I also filter all of the store coupons that come into my email inbox and send them to a folder called shopping. This way I determine when to shop instead of my previous habit of shopping when I got an enticing email.
So how do you manage emotional spending? Comment below!