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Emotional spending and how to overcome it


emotional spendingAre you an emotional spender?

At some point, most of us have done some sort of emotional spending. That time you were feeling low, and you ended up splurging on something you didn’t need. Of getting wasted on drinks because you were feeling super bad and needed to ‘cheer yourself up’.

Have you ever gone for food shopping when you are hungry? Everything you look at seems edible and before you know it, you have your shopping cart full of things you’ll never even eat. That’s how emotional spending really is like. 

How do you tell when you are emotionally spending?

When you feel the need to keep up

If you feel the need to keep up with your friends, colleagues, and family every time they get something good for themselves. You are spending from emotions. This is really something about esteem whereby you feel the need to boost up your esteem. When they own something you don’t, it may make you feel inferior.  It’s a difficult thing to admit, but it is true. A friend once told me they bought a car because someone belittled them for not owning one. Sometime back I was watching a Jim Rohn YouTube lesson, and he said sometimes we need to get angry enough to push ourselves to take action. He said one time he didn’t have the money to buy cookies from a girl scout made him so embarrassed and he promised himself he will never be that broke again. While sometimes such a feeling can be a motivator, there is no need for you to get into debt just so you can inflate your ego.

Shopping to feel better

I think this is the most common form of emotional spending. When you go to the mall and try on clothes and shoes, perfume, makeup, and books (for me) just because you need to boost your mood. While this will temporarily improve your mood, it will leave you feeling crappy afterward because not only now are you in a low mood, you have messed up your finances.

Buying something and getting home and hating yourself for it

Have you ever bought something them when you get home you ask yourself, ‘now, why did I even buy this? I’ll never wear/use it! You really feel terrible about it and most likely you can‘t return it (as it is with most items). This is common especially when you buy something just because it was on sale. Therefore it’s advisable that you take a couple of days (or three) to think about something before you buy it. Within this time, you will have thought through if you really need it.

Spending money you don’t have on stuff you don’t need

These days it’s so easy to access loans, thanks to mobile-accessible small loans. If you ever find yourself taking up a loan to buy something that is not a necessity, then you have an emotional spending problem. Whether it’s borrowing from someone or taking from other funds such as a school fund, then there is a problem here.

Feeling the need to appreciate yourself through spending

Don‘t get me wrong, sometimes spending on some self-care is very important, for your physical and mental health. But do you really need to buy that really expensive shoe you’ll never wear for self-appreciation? There are so many ways you can get some self-care and appreciation without breaking the bank. Sleep for example. I don’t know about you, but after an exhausting period I can sleep for hours on end and wake up feeling like a new person. You can also get a nice outing somewhere that is not only relaxing but healthy. Such include taking a swim, driving or walking in nature (hiking for me) all of which are recreational and relaxing.

How to deal with emotional spending

Reasonable channeling of emotions

Find a constructive way to channel your emotions. This is emotional intelligence at its best. If you feel low, or sad and then your inner voice tells you to go on a shopping free, learning to recognize this emotion and taking control of it is emotional maturity. If you have some characteristics of emotional spending described above, this shows you have a problem and another shopping spree will not sort it out.

For example, before I feel the urge to splurge on some new books, I take time and go through my shelf. I come across something I have not read and dive into it. This distracts me from shopping when feeling emotional such that the next time I shop for books, I will have identified what I need and go to pick it from the shops (or streets) without being dictated by emotions.

Use the 3-day rule

If you see something and are dying to have it (something not urgently needed) take the three-day rule. If you go home and still think about it for three days, then maybe you can get it. This may not stop you from buying stuff you don’t need, but at least you won’t be buying them from a point of emotions. Even if you end up regretting the purchase, it was not an emotionally driven one, your logic could have just failed you that one time.

Find less expensive hobbies

When feeling low or feeling the need to celebrate something, instead of going on a spending spree, find something you can do to make you feel good at the moment, something not so expensive. I, for example, will cook myself a very nice meal when I am feeling either low or celebrating something. I enjoy cooking and I enjoy eating good food. Call a friend, pay someone a visit, and engage in physical activity. If you really feel the need to buy something, it doesn’t have to be expensive. A bottle of wine, a box of chocolates, a book, a decorative item may feel almost as good.

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