I like shopping. A lot. Not only do I like shopping for clothes, but I just like shopping in general. Because of this, I have to watch my spending and stick to a budget with clothes and other beauty things, like makeup and hair. By no means am I addicted to shopping or have a problem with it, but there is one time when I know not to shop at all, and that is when I am emotional.
Some people are emotional eaters, others are emotional spenders. Basically, when you are emotional, you tend to make regrettable decisions because your judgment is clouded by your immediate (negative) emotions. To combat the impulse to spend when you are emotional, try these 10 strategies.
10 Strategies to Curb Emotional Spending
1. Use cash (not credit)
If you don’t have a way to buy something, then you won’t! So, reducing your ability to spend is a good thing if you are trying to curb your emotional spending. You can do this by leaving the credit cards at home (not in your wallet) or getting rid of them all together. If you can only use the cash you have on hand, then you will spend less.
2. Create a budget
Creating a budget means creating a plan for your money. Do this and you will have allocated where your money goes, making it feel like you are “breaking the rules” if you spend differently than what you plan in your budget. Download my budget spreadsheets here.
3. Stick to your budget
Stick to your budget! This is a separate step because it is so easy to fall into the trap of planning a budget out without sticking to it. Here’s a great post about how to stick to your budget. You have to commit to following your budget if you want your budget to work for you. Sticking to your budget will help you spend less and curb your emotional spending because you will have thoughtfully planned where you want each dollar to go.
4. Say “no” to yourself once a day (to avoid entitlement spending)
If you get in the habit of saying “no” to yourself once a day, you will make it so you are in the habit of not getting what you want. In turn, you will avoid buying things because you “deserve it” (entitlement spending). You’ll make decisions that are thoughtful and that of a responsible adult. This means that when you are emotional, you’ll be mature enough to know you should say “no” to yourself regarding whatever it is you are thinking about buying.
5. Always wait at least 14 days before you buy something
Instead of buying something whenever you want it, create a rule for yourself that you don’t buy things until you’ve had them on your list for at least 14 days (or whatever amount of days you want). This will make it so you don’t spend impulsively because you will force yourself to wait.
6. Avoid going to stores when you are emotional
If you are trying to curb your emotional spending, the last place you should go when you’re feeling emotional is to the mall – or to any store at all (or browse online for that matter). Avoid the temptation all together and don’t put yourself in a tempting situation.
7. Create a wish list (so your purchases are intentional and not impulsive).
Keep a list for things you need (or want to buy). Work them into your budget and plan ahead. If you only make purchases based on your list, you will limit the likelihood of emotional spending because you’ll be in the habit of only purchasing things on your list.
8. Make plans with friends or family when you are emotional (to help you get in a better head space)
When you are feeling emotional, call up a friend or family member and make plans. Connecting with other people is a great way to get out of your funk and turn your day around. This will also mean that you won’t be out shopping.
Unsubscribe from shopping emails. In my experience, if you want an online coupon, you can get one pretty easily before you intend to buy something. That means that you don’t need to subscribe and get emails from these companies.
Out of sight, out of mind. If you don’t see emails about shopping, then you won’t have emails to temp you into shopping.
Exercising boosts your endorphins – the feel good neurotransmitters in your brain (aka “runner’s high”). By exercising, you will likely get into a better your mood. If exercising isn’t your thing (aside from the fact that you should make it your thing), try meditating. Both exercise and meditation are positive activities that can help you clear your mind and move out of that emotional state.
- Have a set amount (say $40) that you never spend without conferring with your significant other. This will hold you accountable to another person, and will make sure that if you do spend when you’re emotional it won’t be over that set amount (otherwise you would break your promise).
- Start asking yourself “is this a wise choice for me” for every purchase you make (a tip I learned from an Andy Stanley “Your Move” podcast episode). Instead of doing the right thing, ask yourself based on your past experiences, current circumstances, and future hopes and dreams whether the purchase is a wise choice for you (and your financial future).
Everyone feels negative emotions. But not everyone acts on those emotions and makes regrettable financial choices. By implementing habits and having a plan, you can avoid being part of the group that makes smart financial decisions even when you’re not feeling great.