How to Avoid Emotional Spending

Shopping bagYou’ve had a bad day at work. All you want to do is forget about that horrible meeting you had with your boss. So, you cut out of work a few minutes early and head to the mall.

You’re feeling emotionally exhausted from the day’s events so you pop into Starbucks. Then you buy a new pair of shoes.

Feel better?

You might at first, but eventually the day will sink in. The pair of shoes and the coffee helped lift your spirits for a minute, but you still have to deal with the fact that your boss is upset with you.

Emotional spending is like that. On impulse we try to fix and better our situations by swiping a credit card, but if we do enough of this, our budgets suffer as do our goals for retirement and our hopes for our future.

If you want to avoid emotional spending, here are some helpful tips.

1. Get Support

Just like losing weight or trying to run a marathon, you need support to stop excessive spending. Work with your significant other, tell your best friend, or ask your mom for accountability. Whether you have to agree to text in your purchases to a tool like Budget Ease or just admit when you’ve gone overboard, accountability and support are the very first things that will get you through this habit.

2. Ask What the Purchase Will Do For You

Every time you buy something, ask yourself why. Is because you need it to wear to work? Is it because it’s an important book you need to read to learn more about your business? Or, is it just for fun or because you like it? I’m not saying you can’t have purchases for fun, but make sure they are relevant. Buying yourself something for your birthday or even if you got a promotion makes sense. Buying something just because is okay now and again, but it does start that slippery slope of emotional spending. Make sure you know why you are spending your  money and make sure you actually agree with it and that it’s healthy for your long term financial future.

3. Wait 30 Minutes

If you’ve received support and you’ve already run through what the purchase will do for you, there is a chance you will still want to buy the product. If so, wait thirty minutes. Take an extra lap around the mall. Call a friend. Surf the web. Do anything to distract yourself for 30 minutes. When the time is up, revisit the purchase. Do you still want it? Or, was it just a fleeting desire, something that’s now gone away?

Really emotional spending is just a snap judgement and an impulse. You can learn to control it just like every other impulse. Once you figure out how to do that in a way that makes sense for you, you’ll immediately feel better about your finances. You’ll be more in control, more aware of your spending, and even better, you’ll go over budget less.

Are you an emotional spender? How do you try to control it?


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