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This week, we tackle a difficult subject: the warning signs of emotional spending and how to curb that instinct to spend when you’re feeling a little low.
Have you ever found yourself buying things you don’t really need after a rubbish week? Or found yourself spending when you should be saving? If so, you might be struggling with something called emotional spending.
And this week, we’re going to be looking at 3 warning signs that you’re an emotional spender and some techniques that can help you bring it under control.
3 warning signs of emotional spending
Emotional Spending Sign #1: You often buy things and justify it with “I deserve this”
While treating yourself isn’t a sign of emotional spending in itself, spending money as a way to boost your self-esteem or as a reward is one of the warning signs of being an emotional spender.
Because you’re placing more importance on the actual act of spending of money rather than the experience of what you’re buying, you’re using the act of spending money to cope with stress or make yourself feel better.
This can lead to the idea that spending money = feeling happy, which is a slippery slope to long-term emotional spending problems.
(Check out our previous post on impulse purchases to see how our brains crave the instant gratification of spending money.)
Emotional Spending Sign #2. You spend money even when you shouldn’t
If you find yourself buying things you don’t really need when you can’t really afford them, you might be an emotional spender.
Sometimes, when people get bad money news — like they’ve got outstanding debts or a large bill — they overspend to distract themselves from the situation by spending more money on treats (often using the “I deserve this” approach), making their situations worse.
If you’ve ever found yourself spending money that you can’t really afford on things you don’t really need — new clothes, a holiday, etc… — especially when you need the money for something else, then you could be a bit of an emotional spender.
Emotional Spending Sign #3: You think retail therapy is better than therapy therapy
If you’re the type of person to treat yourself to a shopping spree when you feel down, then you’re probably an emotional spender.
Like we’ve mentioned in Sign #1, in this situation, spending money makes your brain explode with feel-good hormones that are awesome and addictive. And if you’re an emotional spender, that’s the hit you’re after to make yourself feel better when you spend money.
To combat this instinct, you could try some activities that give you the same stress-busting stress relief without coming with a wallet-busting bill at the end of it.
In other words, there are other ways to deal with stress if you’re struggling with breaking your emotional spending habit. Let’s break them down…
3 top tips to curb emotional spending
Now, if you think you might be a bit of an emotional spender, there are lots of things you can do to start breaking the habit.
We thought we’d breakdown three of our top tips to get you started.
Tip #1: Avoid impulse purchases
We’ve talked about this before — at length, actually — but shops and online stores are designed to set off the part of your brain that says “OMG! I need this NOW!” and to bypass the part of your brain that says “Hey, do we really need this?”.
Taking 24 hours to think about any purchases before you buy them can make a huge difference and stop emotional spending. Those 24 hours let rationality kick in and those sensible voices to enter your head again.
If after 24 hours, you’re still thinking about the purchase — and your budget can accommodate it — then go and get it, but 9 times out of 10, you forget all about it, saving your budget and weaning you off the emotional spending.
Tip #2: Set aside a ‘treat yourself’ budget
If going out for nice food, buying nice clothes or going on holiday is something you enjoy, then cutting down on your emotional spending shouldn’t have to mean going without the things you like.
That’s why setting aside a “treat yourself” budget is a good idea: you get to treat yourself without the guilt of blowing your budget and you get to keep those emotional spending itches at bay. Win, win.
Tip #3: Identify your emotional spending triggers
Once you know you’re an emotional spender, think about the things that trigger your spending. Perhaps it’s a bad day at work or an argument with a loved one or a stressful money situation…
Whatever it is, keep an eye on what makes you want to splurge and then make sure you manage it by doing something else to give you a hit of that sweet, sweet, dopamine.
Going to the gym works, but so does hanging out with loved ones or meditating or listening to music you love…
Whatever it is, finding a release that doesn’t involve spending money on things you don’t really need isn’t just healthy for your wallet, it’s healthy for your mental health too.
Ultimately, we all spend money to make us feel better now and again. Whether it’s a coffee before a long day or a nice meal after a hard day, a new top because we deserve it or a holiday because we need it, it’s just part of how we’re hardwired.
However, with pop-up ads, mailing lists, sales, online shops, high street shops and shopping apps, it’s never been easier to embrace our inner retail therapists.
Instead, with the right mindset shift, we can start to move away from spending money to feel better to feeling better and occasionally spending money on things we want. Hopefully, with these three tips, you can get started on your journey from emotional spender to a zen shopper!
- Author The Bamboo Team
- Posted 22 November 2019