I discovered money was a great antidepressant years ago.
I spent to (1) change my mood (2) to reward myself and (3) to make myself feel better after a stressful week.
I spent money when I felt sad and when I felt glad.
I spent money to get approval to make myself more popular and to impress people I didn’t even know. The list goes on and on.
But emotional spending is nearly always a mistake.
The adrenaline rush lasts about as long as it takes to walk to the car.
The feeling of guilt and remorse set in soon sending your emotions on yet another wild ride.
Making money decision based on how you’re feeling at any given moment is a financially dangerous way to live.
It took me a long time to understand how to manage my money in ways that didn’t change with the wind. Once I got this through my head, I stopped assigning money the job of making me happy.
It’s time to start dealing with your emotions in a reasonable way that will not send you hurtling in the darkness of debilitating debt.
Here are some tips I’ve learned:
Notice the feelings:
It takes a little practice but you can learn to recognize the feelings that propel you to spend.
Anger and disappointment are big ones. How about envy or sadness?
See the bigger picture: Recognize that using money to anesthetize these feelings may work for a while, but it wears off quickly.
In the long run, it’s better to deal with emotions in an appropriate way than to slap them down with a temporary fix.
Don’t go there:
If emotional spending is your nemesis, stop setting yourself up to fail.
To make it difficult to give in to temptation, stop carrying credit cards.
Avoid situations that entice you to over spend.
I’m no saint but I rarely visit malls or department stores because those are the places where I am most likely to slip and fall so I choose to stay away on purpose.
Avoid internet advertising:
Take steps to intentionally limit your exposure to advertising because the less you are aware of what’s available for you to buy, the less likely you are to develop a sudden “need” for that item.
Unsubscribe to product catalogs that arrive in your mailbox and the promotional emails your favorite stores are always sending you.
To further avoid internet advertising, download a program that blocks ads and prevents them from appearing on your screen.
Create a better future (get out of debt):
Credit card debt steals your options.
The more debt you acquire, the fewer options you have, until finally you’re out of options altogether.
Make a decision today that you’re going to revise this process by refusing to add any more purchases to your current card balances, then begin systematically paying down the debt.
One by one, your options will return.
Sadly, I know a lot of people can’t get by without buying all the new toys and digging themselves deeper into debt.
Treat yourself to an emotional purchase now and then by setting aside money specifically to fund something you really want- whatever.
No matter how tight your financial situation is, it’s better to allot an amount for a treat than to risk making a costly mistake.
Our lives will always be riddled by bad days, fights, disappointments, anxious moment and bursts of anger.
We should also expect times of joy, pride, and satisfaction.
When the temptation to rack up debt in response to emotional situations seems overwhelming, stop, analyze, divert and chill then choose to do the exact opposite of what your feelings dictate.
In no time, the urge to splurge will pass-or it will change to some other feeling.
Either way, with very little effort, you will be able to react to the situation in a financially appropriate way.
Like any learned behavior, overcoming emotional spending takes time, practice and discipline.
With each success, you will improve your financial confidence.
– George Wisdom