This week on the blog we want to talk about something that impacts all of us in different ways, and sometimes we don’t even know it’s happening. That is, emotional spending.
So what is emotional spending?
Emotional spending is when you’re spending money during a period of heightened emotions (stress, grief, sadness, anger, etc.). Often it means you’re buying things that you don’t really need, or even want. According to mental health experts, emotional spending is a coping mechanism we use to avoid addressing these difficult emotions we may feel. The shopping soothes whatever it is that ails us.
Is emotional spending a bad thing?
Emotional spending is not always a bad thing. Treating yourself to a new outfit, maybe makeup or skincare, whatever it is you treat yourself to when you’re feeling down is not necessarily concerning. Treating yourself every once in a while to cheer yourself up can be a great form of self-care, as long as it’s within your means!
With that being said, it becomes an issue when that is your primary coping mechanism every time you go through a period of heavy emotions. This is because there are serious consequences, one being accumulating debt. It becomes an issue when you’re spending in ways that are inconsistent with your values and/or with your financial and personal goals.
How can you combat emotional spending?
First and foremost, if you find that your emotional spending is getting out of control, the best advice we can offer is to look into other ways, healthy ways, to cope with your triggers (stress, anxiety, depression, etc.). Some of these coping mechanisms could include (but are not limited to) therapy or some form of counselling; meditation, yoga or physical exercise; getting fresh air when you’re feeling down; calling a loved one, and many other things! Emotional spending is an effect, but mental health is the cause. So, although we can help offer ways to combat emotional spending (see below), we strongly urge you to seek the help you need to work through the cause of that emotional spending.
Though we are money experts here at Untangle Money, we too have experienced or dealt with emotional spending! It’s more common than you may think. So most importantly, remember that you are not alone.
Some other tips we want to share when it comes to combating emotional spending or overspending in general:
Unsubscribe from promotional emails - this is a small step that can make a huge impact! Especially so that when you are going through a period of heavy emotion, you won't see anything that will influence you!
Budget, budget, budget! You can read our full blog on budgeting; but essentially, having a budget can help you prioritize and allocate your money better, as well as create healthy spending habits and avoid spending more than you need/want to!
Beware of external influence (AKA social media 👀). Like we mentioned above, it’s OK to ‘treat yourself’ every once in a while - as long as it’s within your means.*
Take the time to look for cheaper alternatives for the things you want (buying them 2nd hand, or trading with friends). Not only will this slow you down, which can make it easier to get to a place where you realise you may not need/want the item as much as you thought you once did, it also adds to the circular economy which is more sustainable for the environment.
*Though the era of emphasis on self-care & self-love is great, a lot of brands tend to pry on emotional spending and manipulate us consumers into overspending in the name of self-care. Stay tuned for a future blog post on this!
Ever heard the phrase "sleep on it"? Well, that is a great tip for combating emotional spending. Taking the time to sit and think about what you want to purchase, whether that's overnight, one week or even a month, can help you to process your emotions and you may realize you don't actually want to buy anything after all!
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