7 Ways to stop emotional spending

7 Ways to Stop Emotional Spending

Mariah French Saving Money, Spending Money 16 Comments

You may be an emotional spender if… 1) You make a purchase that you later regret, 2) You typically spend more money at a store than you had planned, 3) Your immediate thought after a bad day is to go shopping, 4) You relate to the 2009 film Confessions of a Shopaholic, and/or 4) Your bank notifies you that you are close to or have reached your credit card limit.

So, are you an emotional spender?

Due to my parents raising us kids to be very financially conscious, I don’t consider myself to be an emotional spender. However, I do tend to buy more snacks at the grocery store than is needed. Would that be called a hungry spender?

I know a lot of people though, that are emotional spenders. In fact, some of my family members are. I constantly see them making big purchases that they don’t have the money for and don’t need.

My husband and I often talk about their habits compared to ours. 

Are we better than they are? Absolutely not! 

Do we think we are more frugal with our money in order to save for the future? Yes.

It can be very difficult to stop doing something that has become a habit. I get it! But if you are an emotional spender, you need to be willing to change so that you too can save more of your hard-earned income.

Here are 7 ways in which you can stop emotionally spending your paychecks.

1. Follow the shopping list

Was my mom the only one who went grocery shopping with a handwritten shopping list? Admittedly, it was slightly embarrassing at times when she pulled it out of her purse to cross out items we put in the cart. Now that I am a wife and mom though, I do the same thing! Okay, my list is kept on my phone rather than on a piece of paper, but I still have a list.

This tip is mainly for grocery shopping because that’s when you buy the most things at one place. However, it can also work buying clothes or anytime you plan on buying multiple items at once. 

Lately, I’ve started buying my groceries online and picking them up at the store. That ensures I don’t buy something just because I’m hungry for it and I know I’m only getting exactly what we need for that week. 

2. Differentiate between need and want

This one is huge! Soo many people say they need something when in reality, they don’t. 

One of our good friends is expecting their third child and just bought themselves a new car “because of the baby.” Their new car is exactly the same size as their old one, so it obviously was not a need. All it did was add to their debt.

Do you think it was worth it? I personally don’t. 

A need is something you cannot live without. Things like a basic supply of food and clothes count as needs. A want is everything else. I would consider things like 10 new pairs of pants, an extra bag of chips, and a brand new car as a want.

3. Stick to a budget 

This piece of advice may seem obvious and I’m sure we run it to the ground here on Our Money Mentality, but it’s so important. Make a budget and stick to it! 

Some people only think about budgets for the big things like Buying a Car or Renting an Apartment because it makes sense to calculate your income with it. Nevertheless, it is just as crucial to your wallet to make a budget for the everyday things too.

For example, my husband and I stay under $100 a week when buying groceries. We include eating at restaurants in the groceries category so we plan it out ahead of time. 

I recommend creating different categories (groceries, utilities, gas, etc) and putting a dollar amount next to each category. Make sure that it works with how much money you bring in and don’t go over that amount!

4. Find a new hobby

If you are an emotional spender, you’ve probably noticed that it takes up some or most of your time. It can be time consuming going from store to store or even website to website. Nowadays, ads pop up on your phone or computer of things they know you will love. And let’s be honest, they always know exactly what we want!

Just like any bad habit, you need to replace shopping with something else.

There are many things that can easily take the place of spending money. If you prefer to shop online, you can email an old friend, update your will, or try to sell your extra purchases. If you are the kind of person who likes to see it in person before you buy it, you can read a book, volunteer, or have a yard sale. 

5. Know that sales don’t mean free

I will say it again for all you mathematicians:

Sales ≠ Free

Just because there is a sale or discount somewhere does not mean that you need to go! You can skip it and still be okay.

A couple weeks ago, A Children’s Place was having a 70% off sale. Some of my friends wanted to go together to get clothes for our kids. Yes, it sounded great, but my son didn’t need any new clothes. I would rather spend $0 than $20 anyday.

Another thing you can do here is to unsubscribe from any store mailing lists. Don’t look at sales from stores you know you don’t need to shop at – remove the temptation altogether. The only sales I look at are from grocery stores because I know I will be needing food.

6. Get rid of all credit cards

This tip is necessary for anybody who has a real problem with overspending. I know too many people who have to transfer money from one account to the next because they “need” to buy new kitchen countertops or a massage chair. 

If this is you, I hope you don’t feel embarrassed, but rather feel ready to make a change. Get rid of all your credit cards and make a plan to pay them all off. 

I still have never owned a credit card. It’s not because I don’t trust myself, but I prefer to pay for things in cash. Also, 0 credit is good credit. Don’t listen to anyone who tries to tell you differently.

7. Be held accountable 

Last, but not least, choose someone to hold you accountable for your spending habits. It can be a spouse, sibling, roommate, or friend. 

According to a survey commissioned by NerdWallet, about half of Americans admit to spending more than they can afford based on emotions. 

Obviously, this is a big problem, but it’s one that can be changed by involving and trusting in those around you.

My husband and I talk to each other frequently about how much is in our bank account and anytime we feel like we honestly need to make a last minute purchase. Unfortunately, we know many couples who don’t communicate openly about their finances and that gets them into many arguments.

I’m also open with my siblings about any financial goals I have because I know that they can help me keep up with them. Some of you may choose a friend to talk to. That’s okay! You simply need somebody to tell all your spending goals, successes, and failures to. 

Please share this with all the emotional spenders in your life and help them to improve! Let us know if you start your own Shopaholics Anonymous group!

Comments 16

  1. I love your blog….and there are some great tips here…we cut back on our grocery bill every month recently and it’s great having extra cash each month.

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  2. Great article. I think it’s important to start young teaching our children wants vs needs and budgets. One thing I wish I would have done was word things that way… wants vs needs. Instead I said we don’t have any money creating scarecity when now I think I should have been saying… we don’t have the money for that because we are choosing to spend our money on_____.

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  3. These are great tips! I was actually complimented on the “Want or Need” one when I was in a store. I had my list and knew what I was absolutely needing and on the way browsing just to get ideas of what I might like in the future. A lady saw me pick it up and say it out loud to myself “Is this a want or need?” Which of course was just a want and I put it back. She came over to tell me that was awesome what I did and would do this herself! It was a great feeling knowing I had helped someone out to save money like you are doing right now! 😍 Thank you for sharing, good job 👍🏼

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  4. These are great tips, which I do follow most of the time. I don’t consider myself an emotional spender, however, emotional eater is a whole other story. Ha! Great post. Thanks for sharing.

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