Money Monday – Emotional Spending

We love to spend money. It makes us feel good.  It provides a rush.  It even releases dopamine, the feel good chemical, in the brain.

There’s nothing wrong with spending money.

But when you use money as a band-aid for dealing with your emotions, it’s easy to get carried away.

If we feel unloved, we  shop.  If we feel lonely, we take a friend out to dinner.  If we feel bored, we spend money on activities we think will cure the problem.

We spend, spend, spend.  We end up emotionally bankrupt and feeling overwhelmed financially.  When you use money to solve your problems, you end up creating bigger problems and doing nothing about what’s causing the feelings in the first place.

So how do you know if you’re spending because you have a true want or need or if you’re trying to spend yourself into feeling better.

I’ve put together some questions you can use to check in before you spend the money.

Question 1: What do you think it will mean if you don’t buy the item? 

This question is so important because we often spend money to avoid looking cheap.  Especially at our friends candle parties and when the sales people are so sweet we don’t want to let them down.

Question 2: Why do you want the item & how do you think you will feel if you buy the item?

The only reason we ever want something is because we think it will make us feel better.  While you might get a temporary boost from shopping, you can never shop your way into happiness.  Trust me, I’ve tried it.

Question 3: Are you in a hurry?

Hurry is a great clue that you need to check in with yourself.  If you truly want something, most likely it will be there tomorrow. If you can’t wait, ask yourself why.  Get honest.  Slow down.  Check in.

Question 4: Will this item take my closer to or further from my financial goals?

Our minds are not designed to focus on the long term.  The brain loves instant gratification.  Having near term financial goals that you can check in with while you’re spending can help.  This question is designed to help you remember that there is a biger picture.

Bottom line: If you’re in a hurry to buy the jeans, the car, the couch, the watch, the vacation, the eye cream, the dinner for all your friends and you think buying it will help you feel confident, free, cozy, rich, connected, pretty, liked or any other emotion, you’re likely engaging in emotional spending.

Any lift you get in how you feel will be temporary and when it’s gone you’ll still be stuck with the bill.  There are better ways to feel better that cost a lot less money.

Leave your comments and insights below. 

Email me your questions on money to christy.lambert@areyouthriving.com

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  1. Emotional Spending | Christy Lambert - August 22, 2012

    [...] can read the full original post on emotional spending by clicking here. There’s some more juicy details on these four [...]

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