I joke all the time that I don’t have feelings. I’m a tested ENTJ on the Meyers-Briggs test, and rarely every have “outbursts” of feelings, and when that does happen, I’m completely embarrassed and chagrined. That’s just not how I do feelings.
Unfortunately, my emotions manifest in a different way: emotional spending. Having some feelings? Time to go to the store. I’m not intentionally going anywhere, I’m just wandering around.
The current obsession with “going to Target and letting it tell you what you need” is very unhealthy for me, and is an absolute budget kiler. I don’t need more pens, ice cream, or face wash. But it sure makes me feel better…for a few minutes.
As we’ve really taken control of our finances, paid off debt, and begun rapidly saving for a house, there’s not room in the budget for emotional spending.
Here are a few tips that I have incorporated into my life to overcome emotional spending and take control of my finances.
Understand Your Feelings
Loneliness is a real thing, and can cause you to go out – ANYWHERE – to be among other people. That drove me to malls, or anywhere else where I’d be out and about and among people. That domino’d into spending money to “justify” being in a store – cause I mean, don’t you feel weird when you go into a store and don’t buy anything?
When I really dug into those feelings and looked at what they were, and why I was feeling them, then I was able to understand the root cause of what was causing them, and what I needed to do to deal with them, rather than spending money.
You may be able to do this on your own, but this may be best to talk to a counselor. They will be equipped to help you discover the root cause of what is going on.
If you’re not able to make it to a counselor (sometimes there isn’t money for that!), here are a few questions you can ask yourself.
- Is there something in particular that happens before I spend money, ie, is there a trigger for this behavior?
- Is there a free alternative?
- What am I currently feeling?
- Is this something I would ordinarily purchase?
Create Fun in the Budget
Are you single and lonely, and looking for a way to be around people? Create room in the budget for it! If you’re serious about needing to get somewhere to be around people, then find another area of the budget to cut.
I completed my masters degree in a Starbucks: I was single, lived alone, and needed to get away from distractions of my house. I also enjoyed being around others while I was working. I budgeted for those coffees, as that was important to me.
By making room in the budget for things that I truly wanted to do, I was able to keep my spending in check.
Many times, people spend money because it’s something they can control during an emotional time. If you’re finding that spending money is a coping mechanism, it can be helpful to find a way to express those feelings. Creating boundaries in the way that you emotionally spend money can help you to work through your feelings, one step at a time.
Don’t Make it Easy to Spend Money
The easier it is to spend money, the more likely it is that you will spend.
Here are a few tips on how you can avoid spending money.
- Unsubscribe from email lists. If you REALLY need something, then you’ll add it to the budget and go buy it. Seeing a constant onslaught of emails telling you about sales will tempt you to spend money that you don’t need to spend. Use sites like unroll.me to remove yourself from mailing lists – out of sight, out of mind! If you need an item, you can google the latest sales and the greatest deals.
- Don’t save your credit card/debit card information on sites. If you have to physically get up and get your card information, you are less likely to spend money. It’s happened many times, I put items in my online shopping cart, and went almost all the way to checkout, and then realized my card was in the other room. Nevermind.
Create a 24 Hour Rule for Purchases
Let’s say you see something, and you NEED it. Instead of just getting it in the moment, then wait for 24 hours. That will help you define if something is an actual need, or if it’s just an “in the moment feeling.”
Most of the time, when I wait 24 hours, I find that I don’t actually need that item, I just want it.
Creating a 24 hour rule before making purchases also allowed me to have more time to think about why I wanted something, and why I wanted it.
Eliminating impulse purchases helped me stick with my budget.
Are you an emotional spender? What are some tips and tricks that you utilize to help you overcome emotional spending?