In my many years of working with clients on both emotional eating and emotional spending, I have observed that the two issues are very much the same. I’ve discussed emotional eating quite a bit already, so I’d like to talk about buying binges. Similar to dieting, which doesn’t address emotional eating, budgeting won’t help you with emotional spending. To be more financially responsible, you have to change both your mindset about money and your relationship with it.
Of course, the first step in confronting any issue is to recognize it. Let’s face it—much of our spending is emotional. There are few things we actually “need,” with many purchases being a mixture of want and need. For example, you might truly require a new purse, but choose a more attractive, expensive one rather than something basic that would fill your practical needs.
The key to shifting your behavior is to make spending a conscious activity. Take your time in deciding to make a purchase, rather than being driven by feelings, which shift and change all the time. Buying something can give you a short-lived “high,” which is quickly forgotten as you move on to the next thing. Have you ever purchased something on Amazon, only to have it arrive a few days later, at which point you barely even remember ordering it? Obviously, you didn’t really need that item, and the money would have been better deposited in your 401K. But saving isn’t sexy, and it doesn’t give you that fun little “kick” that shopping does, so it’s hard to make yourself do it. It works better to have the money you wish to save drawn automatically from your account each month, so it never really feels like it’s yours.
To increase your spending awareness before making a non-essential purchase (basically anything other than toiletries, fuel, or basic groceries), ask yourself the following questions:
- What purpose will this serve in my life? If the item is clothing, what will I wear it with? If it’s furniture, where will it go? What will I do with this item
- Would something else be better? Do your research; make sure this is the best version of what you are considering. There might be one that fits your needs better but costs more, and you might choose to delay your purchase and save up for that, rather than get something less useful today.
- Can I afford it NOW? Be honest about where you are financially, and whether you can afford the prospective purchase in your present circumstances. If not, buy it later when you have more money. The “now or never” idea is frequently just a lie we tell ourselves to justify overspending.
- Am I comfortable with the amount of my earnings/work time this item will cost me? Look at your after-tax hourly rate of earnings, and ask yourself how you feel about having to work that number of hours to pay for a thing you want. Considering the number of actual hours you’d have to work to earn the money to pay for something may make you pause before spending!
- Do I really want this, or I am just afraid of missing out? Again, just because something is on sale doesn’t mean you “should” buy it. Trust me…there are always future buying opportunities, so wait for the right time.
- Do I feel good about this purchase? Does the world need another one of these? If you happen to be an environmentalist like me, think about the fact that almost anything you buy won’t biodegrade during your lifetime. Do you think the planet needs another new CD, or could a used one or MP3 fill the bill just as well? Check in with your feelings and intuition to guide your decision to buy something or not.
If you have particular trouble with emotional spending, call me to schedule my “prosperity session.” Through it, I’ve helped many clients with financial issues, and everyone seems to love this special, focused process.
Love yourself enough to do the work of change—you heal much more than your bank account when you attend to the most important thing: your relationship with yourself.
Healthy Habits Hypnosis
187 Calle Magdalena #209
Encinitas, CA 92024