We all know about emotional eating. I think I’m the queen of using chocolate to curb my frustrations.
When I was in college, I was an emotional spender, too. I’d buy things on pure impulse just because it felt good to do it at the time. Eventually, I realized that if I continued to be an emotional spender, I was going to be in big financial trouble. I’ve had to learn that while it’s okay to buy fun things, it’s much better to have good control over your discretionary income. It’s much better to reign in those impulses.
Here are some strategies you can use to stop emotional spending.
Pay close attention to the things you buy. Some people shop out of boredom. To avoid this, only shop when you really need something and keep a track of what you put in your cart. Make a list and stick to it!
Try not to overindulge in fantasies. Stop worrying about what everyone else is thinking. It’s ok to want to impress a friend with an expensive dinner or wow everyone at work with a really nice new outfit, but don’t act these out because it can become costly.
Beware of small purchases because they can quickly add up. You may feel less guilty about buying something that’s cheap, but then you may feel like it will be ok to buy more cheap things. It’s quite easy to “Dollar Spot” yourself into the poorhouse if you can’t walk right by the temptation.
Treat yourself every now and then. If you plan ahead for a special treat, you will be less likely to impulsively spend large amounts of money. If there is some new tech gadget you want to get, save for it. You’ll feel much better about it and it won’t mess up your financial security. To me, this is why I am frugal – so I can comfortably afford to treat myself to something special every once in awhile.
Acknowledge the feelings that make you want to spend more. If you notice the emotions that are making you feel the need to buy things, you might be less likely to act on them. Hmm…. that sounds like emotional eating, doesn’t it?
Always keep your priorities in mind. There will be no shortage of bad days, but rather than seeing material things as a way to make you feel better, try focusing on your more important goals. If your goal is to get out of debt, then look at making senseless purchases as an obstacle in your way of achieving that goal. If you want to make a large purchase like buying a new car or paying extra on your mortgage, take the money you would normally spend frivolously and squirrel it away. I know one friend who puts money into a travel jar every time her family avoids going out to eat and cooks at home instead. They’ve made their family vacation their priority over the brief enjoyment of a restaurant meal.
Stay away from retail situations. Try to avoid going to the mall, shopping on eBay, or being drawn in by catalogues. All they want is to get your money and it’s so easy to overspend in those situations. This is somewhat easy to do when you live in a rural area… but remember that internet shopping can be just as dangerous to your budget. When I’m feeling lousy, I stay away from any sites that share the hottest online deals – it’s just too dangerous.
Take the scenic route, or somewhere that doesn’t involve you traveling through a strip mall or near any place you would normally enjoy shopping. And if you do have to drive near places you like to shop, don’t look at their signs. They’re always having a sale, so just forget about stopping.
Try also to come up with your own unique solutions. You could try reading a book to get you through a boring day rather than shopping. You could also just have a friend or two over and watch some shows or movies. There are many ways to have fun or get through the rough patches without wasting a penny.
Curbing your emotional spending is not easy. It’s just as hard as curbing your emotional eating. If they were easy, we’d all be skinny and rich. The key is to stop yourself before you splurge and question your motivation.