If you’re an emotional spender, try this

5 June, 2023 / words by IALH Editorial Team

Written by Kelle Salle

Image via Pinterest

There’s nothing like a good shopping trip, especially when you come across something (or a few things) you’ve wanted for ages. When you treat yourself to something new, you’ll always feel good, especially if you love to shop. You’ll know you love to shop if you’ve ever had a clear out and been surprised at how many things you have never worn or no longer need. A bit of retail therapy is great from time to time, but it is possible to take things too far. If you find that you’re always looking for something new to buy especially when you’re not having a great day, then you might be an emotional spender. We’ve asked Dr Becky Spelman, Psychologist and Founder of The Private Therapy Clinic to provide some insight. Keep reading to learn more about why someone might be an emotional spender, what this looks like and most importantly, how to combat it.

What is emotional spending?

Emotional spending is the act of making purchases as a way to cope with difficult emotions such as stress, anxiety, or sadness. Emotional spenders tend to make impulsive purchases without carefully considering whether they actually need what they want to buy. If it isn’t managed, emotional spending can lead to financial problems and regret.

Why might someone be an emotional spender?

People may engage in emotional spending for various reasons like anxiety, boredom, sadness, loneliness, or even as a reward for themselves. While the latter isn’t a bad thing, it is possible to reward yourself too much. Emotional spenders tend to feel guilty after spending – they also hide purchases from others, and spend beyond their means. Although anxiety is associated with mental health, it can also have an impact on your emotional health. Anxious emotional spenders might experience intense feelings of restlessness, worry and fear that they temporarily relieve through shopping. This can lead to compulsive buying and overspending, even if you can’t afford it. Over time, this behaviour can exacerbate anxiety.

How can someone stop being an emotional spender?

The first thing you need to do is identify your triggers. An easy way to do this is to keep a spending journal once a month to track your spending habits. This will give you an idea of how much you’re spending as well as how you felt when you made certain purchases. Building healthy coping mechanisms such as exercise, mindfulness, talking to someone you trust or seeking therapy can also help. In terms of managing your finances, creating a budget and setting financial goals can also help you feel more in control of the situation. Additionally, seeking help from a financial advisor or counsellor can also be beneficial. Lastly, limiting exposure to advertising and unsubscribing from promotional emails can reduce temptation.

The final takeaway

We’ve all had moments when we’ve been susceptible to emotional spending, especially if we want to make ourselves feel better, but if it is posing a problem, it’s important to act sooner rather than later to avoid long-term financial consequences.


IALH Editorial Team


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