This time of year really takes you on an emotional roller coaster. It's a season that can be full of changes. Less sunlight can make you feel moodier. November/December is a peak time for relationship break-ups. The election just happened, and either your happy or less than excited by the results. But, Thanksgiving is coming. Family reunions are happening. And who doesn't like Christmas?
It is easy for your emotions to be wrapped up with the changing of the seasons. Unfortunately, sometimes when your emotions get high, your bank account gets low. It’s called emotional spending.
I googled ‘emotional spending’ and over 68 million results popped up. All the first page results were advice on how to curb emotional spending. We obviously live in a culture where this is a problem.
Let us help you start to develop good habits to control emotional spending.
Let's start with 3 personal identifications to help you control emotional spending:
1) Know Your Budget
The best way to stop seeing your bank account vanish unexpectedly is to create a budget. Your budget should include goals of what you want to do with your finances. Paying all your bills should be one of those goals, but do you have debt? Children? How would you like to spend your excess spending money? When you see your financial goals, you will be less likely to make emotional purchases to harmfully impact these goals.
If you know you love to impulse buy, put that in your budget. Allow yourself to splurge every month … within budget.
2) Be Able To Identify Signs of Emotional Spending
Sometimes you have to recognize that you struggle with something before you are able to handle it. You're not going to be able to stop emotionally spending if you do not understand that you ARE an emotional spender. Here are some signs you may be an emotional spender:
- You seek immediate gratification through shopping
- Purchases are met with telling yourself, "I Deserve It."
- Shopping helps you compete with family members or friends
- Shopping decompresses you from stress
- You frequently spend more than you mean to on a shopping trip
- You frequently return more item than you keep
3) Know Your Stress Relievers
Often emotional shopping comes from experiencing different forms of stress. In order to protect yourself from too much emotional spending, know other ways you can relieve stress so that you are not spending $10, $20 every time you are stressed. Here is a list of possible stress relievers you can participate in:
- Exercise or Walk
- Watch a Christmas or Comedy Movie
- Light Candles
- Listen to Music
- Take A Nap
- Do Crafts
If you have identified that you are an emotional spender, here are 3 practical habits to start to curb emotional spending.
1) Decrease Your Intake of Advertisements
As a holder of a marketing degree, I can confirm that ads are designed to make you spend your money. Therefore, if you have a desire to cut back on emotional spending, cut out the advertisements. You will be less tempted. Let's look at the major sources of advertising and how you can reduce your exposure to them:
- Newspapers – Have someone in your house throw out the advertisements before you read the newspapers.
- Emails – Unsubscribe from retail email lists. Every email list should have an unsubscribe button. It’s the law for them to offer a unsubscribe buttons.
- Commercials – Start watching Netflix or recorded TV. This will drastically reduce your intake of advertisements.
2) Implement the 24-hour Rule
When you feel the urge to buy something on the spot you didn’t intend to buy, implement the 24-hour rule. Wait 24 hours to consider buying that item again. Often that item will be off your mind. If not, buy it, or if it’s expensive, wait a week instead. If still on your mind, have that item be a spending goal to save toward.
3) Hide Your Credit Card
It is easiest to impulse spend when your credit card is handy. Limit the amount of credit cards you carry to only one. Delete your credit card information from one-click buying sites such as Amazon. It is easier to spend when purchasing an item is not a hassle.
Lastly, we are ready to enter the Christmas season. Often emotional spending can creep up when buying gifts for people. Here are 3 questions to ask yourself to curb emotional spending when Christmas shopping:
1) Does It Fit My Budget?
Always have a budget in mind when Christmas shopping. The first question you can ask to help you curb emotionally spending on someone else is to ask if it fits in your budget. If it does not, will that item be on sale soon? Is there a cheaper brand available? Can you make it yourself?
2) Will They Really Use It?
Ask yourself this honestly. Sometimes to help save your own bank account, it is worthwhile to ask if they will use it? Is it a receive-it-and-forget-it gift? If you are unsure, wait on buying this gift. As Dave Ramsey puts it, "Cast-iron bacon bowls? Can’t you just eat your meat next to your eggs?"
3) Why Do I Want To Buy This Gift?
Sometimes it is good to ask yourself, "Am I buying this gift for them or to make myself happy?"
Here are some further articles about emotional spending that can help you: