Are You an Emotional Spender?

Kristina Kraus
Greater Nevada Credit Union
Many of us can say that at one point or another we have been guilty of emotional spending. For me, it’s after I’ve had a rough day and don’t want to cook so I decide to treat myself by going out to eat. Once in a while is okay, but it can become a bad habit for some and get out of control.
We all have different reasons for emotional spending but some of us don’t even realize how much we do it. So how can you tell if you are an emotional spender? Ask yourself these basic questions and decide if maybe you need to give your credit card a break.

Do you have a reason?

The next time you find yourself out shopping, ask yourself why you are there. If you’re out because you need to buy a birthday gift or replace a pair of work shoes, that’s perfectly okay. However, if you just had the urge to see if your favorite store got anything new in, then that’s the time to stop and think of something else to do.

Is it something you really need?

Sure not everything is a total necessity like toilet paper and milk. Some things we buy are to make us happy. But if you’re the type to buy and return items frequently or buy something and only use it once then you probably don’t need it and it probably doesn’t make you that happy.
Before buying, ask yourself what happens if you don’t buy it? Will you still be healthy? How long will your happiness (or instant gratification) actually last? If it is something you don’t think you absolutely need then try waiting a week to see if it is still worth it to buy. The last thing you want is to return home with buyer’s remorse because you wanted something but didn’t need it

Do you spend to reward yourself?

Stress is one of the most common reasons we turn to emotional spending. Using your money as an antidepressant however is dangerous. Trying to pick yourself up with shopping whether from being angry, sad, or stressed only serves as a temporary fix and can get you into financial trouble quickly.

Are you trying to “Keep Up with the Joneses?”

Just because your best friend got the new Nike Vapor golf clubs or the latest Michael Kors’ tote, doesn’t mean you need to go get something newer and better. If your clubs or purse are still in good condition then don’t waste money trying to compete and keep up with your friends or family.  We often want to spend in these situations in order to feel more accepted or to feel more powerful. 
If you think you might be an emotional spender, try to identify your trigger. Is it stress? Or maybe it’s a desire for wanting the newest and best out there.  If you tend to shop when you’re in a negative mood, try a new habit like exercising instead. There are many benefits to working out such as relieving stress and boosting your energy. If you just enjoying shopping for fun and tend to buy more than you need, try leaving your cards at home and only carry enough cash to get you through the day.
One final piece of advice: Take the money you save by avoiding emotional spending and invest it into savings, or use it to pay down debt. A sense of greater financial security can be a big mood booster and further cut those cravings to overspend.