My name’s Katie, and I’ve been an emotional spender for years. Thankfully, I’m getting over it now and regaining a much tighter grip of my finances. If you’re prone to emotional spending like me, here are my top 5 tips for dealing with it:
First things first, I need to stress that I am not a financial expert, and this blog post in no way constitutes proper financial advice. If you do need financial advice, try the free Money Advice Service.
Before we start, what is emotional spending?
Emotional spending is where you end up spending money on something that you neither want or need, just to improve your mood. So, if you buy something to cheer yourself up, calm your anxieties, or even in an attempt to quash boredom, you’re probably an emotional spender too.
Why’s it bad? It’s not so bad if you can afford to spend too much, but it’s a problem if you’re spending beyond your means. You could get into debt, or take longer to save for a goal that you’re aiming for. (In my case, a house deposit!)
It’s so easy to fall into the trap of emotional spending, particularly with the advent of social media platforms like Instagram. Influencer culture can make us feel as if we’re lacking in some way, and lead us to spend to try and keep up with the Joneses, as it were.
There’s no shame in it, it’s more common than you think. So, don’t feel bad if you’ve been engaging in emotional spending.
How to stop being an emotional spender:
Have a pre-prepared shopping list
Whenever I know I need to do a spot of online shopping, I consult my shopping list (in the Microsoft To-Do app). Whenever I know I’m running low on something, or that it’s someone’s birthday coming up, I add it to my shopping list, so I don’t forget.
I never go shopping online these days unless I actually have a need to. I don’t browse or window shop mindlessly, because I know how easy it is to get sucked in and convince myself I need something shiny and new.
I also do all of my online shopping on a computer, rather than on my phone. It’s just one small extra barrier between me and my cash going our separate ways.
Do a spreadsheet with a frequency of essential buys
Lately, I’ve been keeping a spreadsheet with all of the things that I regularly buy in it. I’ve tried to work out the frequency of when I need to repurchase those things, so that I can factor them into my monthly budget.
It might be a bit too restrictive for you, but I honestly found it quite handy, because it made me realise what I actually did need. Plus it allowed me to cut out what I didn’t really need at all.
To do an audit like this really enables you to see where your money’s going, and how you can claw some back.
Don’t stop treating yourself occasionally
Don’t be all stick, no carrot. Let yourself have a treat every month at least. (Don’t go overboard, though.) Set yourself a budget for what you can afford to spend – whether it’s for a cinema trip, a moisturiser you want to try, or even just a Lush bubble bar.
Don’t deprive yourself, because you’ll end up slipping back to your old ways if it’s absolutely no fun at all.
Ask yourself how you’re feeling before you click ‘buy’
This is so important. Just before you complete your purchase, think about how you’re feeling. Sit there, and question your own motivation for buying the thing you want right now.
Sit on it until the next day. Give yourself some breathing space. If it’s a big purchase, make a list of pros and cons of whether it’s a worthwhile item. Don’t bow to pressure from time limits on sales emails or the ease of one click purchases.
Put some barriers in your way, so that you can really contemplate buying something subjectively and fully question your motives.
Get the help you need
If you’re not feeling yourself, and you know that you’re spending to get yourself out of a funk, it’s great that you’ve realised it. If you’re spending because you’re suffering from anxiety or low mood, have a chat with your GP, or refer yourself to your local mental health service.
You can also get help right now from the fantastic Mental Health and Money Advice website. You’re not alone, and there’s absolutely no shame in getting any help if you need it.
If you’re spending because you’re bored, try and find a new hobby that’ll keep you occupied. Just make sure that you try and find an affordable hobby!
What tips do you have?