Anxiety, worry, happiness, celebration. These are just a few of the basic emotions at play when we engage in emotional spending. Unfortunately it’s something we’ve all been guilty of at one time or another, and while occasionally it’s not a problem repeated emotional spending will drain your bank account faster than you can fill it. Every time.
Ever wondered where your money is going at the end of the month? Take a look at your discretionary (often emotionally driven) impulse buys. From treating yourself to a meal out, to picking up that luxury dress you didn’t quite need, emotions have too prominent a place in most of our finances.
In fact, did you know that 49% of people have admitted to emotional impulse buying on a recent survey done by Nerd Wallet? Do you know what that says to me? Half of the people who responded to that survey are being honest with themselves about the fact that emotions influence us ALL from time to time.
However, powerful as emotions are, they do not have to remain in control of your money. You can take control by following a few tips. It’s worth noting that although these tips are simple enough to understand, they may feel anything but easy when you’re first trying to implement them.
Don’t let that stop you! Keep emotions out of your finances today!
Figure out what emotion is driving you to the store
The three most common emotional impulse offenders are excitement, stress, and sadness. These three emotions are the most powerful impulse buyers, so be aware if that’s what’s driving you to shop.
But what if you’re not feeling those, you’re feeling anxiety instead? That’s fine, just note that that’s the emotion at play for you. The next time you’re shopping take a quick second and make note of how you’re feeling. What drove you that day, to that mall? Were you celebrating a new promotion? Worrying you didn’t have enough knick knacks to make the house look nice? What about just envying something a friend had? Whatever the emotion, make note of it.
Figure out what emotion you feel when you purchase
What is shopping doing for you when you experience whatever feeling drove you to do it? Does it relax you, excite you, or just make you feel like something is changing? It’s equally important to identify what shopping itself makes you feel, so you can find other ways to experience that joy.
Figure out alternatives to processing those emotions
Now that you know what’s driving you, you can start developing ways to address this emotion that don’t involve spending. Maybe instead of heading out for dinner to unwind, you could take a long hot bath. Maybe instead of buying new knick knacks to decorate because you’re worried company won’t like the house, you could try a re-decorating of the things you already own. Maybe instead of shopping to distract from worry, you can take a few deep breaths. Maybe celebrating can just mean calling a loved one and jumping up and down. Whatever the alternatives are, realize you don’t have to be beholden to your emotions – you are in control of them not the other way around.
Remember you can target reducing the emotion that drives you to shop (like anxiety) through alternative methods of producing the emotion that shopping gives you (like joy). There are plenty of emotional paths to take, so just work until you find what works for you.
Practice your new alternatives, and see what’s happening to your pocketbook
So if you try those alternatives to generating emotion, what happens? Does it clear up your spending entirely or have you still found yourself at the mall? Don’t panic if you’re in the latter case, just take some time to note what feeling drove you there. Is it the same? Are the alternatives not attractive enough? Or have you simply come out of habit? Take some time to figure out what’s going on and remember to PRACTICE the alternatives to encourage your body to want to take part.
Identify obstacles, and make plans to deal with them too
If in practicing you’ve realised certain things stand in your way, that’s great news! We all have obstacles, identifying them just means you can make a plan to stop their control in your life too!
Maybe having your payment information saved into your favourite shopping site is a mistake you can avoid. Perhaps driving a certain way home from work that hits your favourite coffee shop is too much temptation. Decide what your road block is and work to overcome it.
Keep at it!
Whatever you’re doing, keep at it! Know that you’re on the path to getting emotions out of your pocketbook, and it’s a good track to be on! This isn’t easy, especially at first, but it can be conquered.