Emotional spending: How to break the habit

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We’ve all done it before… Going into the mall on the way home after a tough day for one little pick-me-up purchase, or impulse-buying online after an overwhelming week. What about going on an Instagram shopping binge after that same auntie asked again when you’re getting married?

But hey, this is a judgment-free zone focused on growth, so let’s not go into too many examples of emotional spending. Let’s rather look at strategies to help break the cycle.

Recognise your triggers

Start by knowing exactly which emotions, situations or events will trigger your emotional spending. These might include a boring Uber ride, lunch hour at work, anxiety-inducing activities or maybe even positive emotions like excitement or happiness.

Avoid temptation

If you know certain stores or websites trigger your emotional spending habits, try to avoid them as much as possible. Unsubscribe from email newsletters, unfollow social media accounts and find new hobbies or activities to occupy your time. Try exercising for the 20 minutes you usually spend scrolling, meditating or getting into a creative hobby. The better you know yourself, the easier this gets.

Make a budget

Are we saying a budget is the solution to most financial issues? Yes. Yes, we are. 22seven makes budgeting easy. Create one that takes your income and expenses into account and set aside a specific amount for discretionary spending. Stick to your budget as closely as possible to avoid overspending. Don’t deprive yourself of all your favourite expenses though, as this will lead to more impulse-buying in the future.

It’s okay to put away R500 to browse Takealot on a sucky Monday night if it suits your budget.

Wait before making purchases

This goes against the very nature of emotional spending. When you’re feeling down, you need a tall cappuccino and new boots immediately. But hang on: Next time you feel the urge to make an impulsive purchase, wait a day or two before buying. This way you’ll give yourself the necessary time and head space to evaluate whether that purchase is really necessary. (You can still have the cappuccino.)

Ask for help

Remember how we said in another Slice that talking about money is super important, and how it shouldn’t be taboo? If you feel like your emotional spending habits are impacting your life in a negative way, consider seeking support from a therapist or counsellor. A professional can help you work through the underlying emotional issues that might be contributing to your spending habits, and help you develop healthy coping strategies.

Remember, overcoming emotional spending is a process – it takes time and effort. Be patient with yourself and celebrate the small successes along the way!