Tuesday, 11 February 2020

How Can We Kick The Cycle Of Emotional Spending?

Have you ever found yourself spending money just to make yourself feel better? If so, you may be an emotional spender. The cycle of emotional spending is destructive and will only last for as long as you make the purchase and is then often replaced with feelings of guilt or regret. How then can we kick the cycle of emotional spending?

Lady looking sad surrounding by bags in a post about how can we kick the cycle of emotional spending?

I can't quite remember when I first noticed that I hoarded stuff. Perhaps it was going away to university and needing another set of things, who knows. My mum kindly always let me store my stuff at hers even when I had my own place. Then, I managed to declutter everything down into one place and within three years end up with so much stuff once again.

Dan affectionately refers to me as Orinoco from the Wombles. Basically, give me five minutes, and I've managed to create rubbish. (I also like food and sleeping!)

What is emotional spending?

Before we look at how we can we kick the cycle of emotional spending, let's just explore what it is we are talking about.

Emotional spending occurs when you buy something not because you need or want it, but because you are trying to control some emotion. 

But why do we end up spending money on unnecessary items to make us feel better? 

The feeling only lasts for the time it takes to hang the garment in the wardrobe or put the book on the shelf. Then we feel guilty. There is mounting stuff everywhere. You suddenly feel bad so go shopping again. How can we stop the cycle?

You could perhaps be feeling stressed, bored, unhappy or any number of other emotions.

Why was I shopping? Boredom perhaps as Dan worked much longer hours than me. Maybe procrastinating as I was also doing my Masters Degree, so if I wasn't at home, I didn't feel guilty that I wasn't studying. If I'm frank maybe even a bit of sadness or depression.

I was shopping every day.

My spending has always been relatively low level. I'm not interested particularly in designer brands or expensive items. I would pop to Sainsbury's on the way home from work every night and buy things I really didn't need.

Every day I would carry heavy bags back and then scroll through Amazon and eBay. For example, I wanted to get a new job, so I bought a whole new wardrobe from eBay. Ok so it was all second hand, but I never wore half of the things and ended up donating it to a charity shop.

I would buy books because they are discounted in Sainsbury's. Then never have time to read them all.

 Yet all the spending adds up. I was only doing supply work so some weeks I didn't earn anything.

Lady online shopping in a post about how can we kick the cycle of emotional spending?

Where does it stem from?

I have a few theories from my own spending. One is trying to be a better version of me. Whether that be through looks (makeup), appearance (clothes) or sorting out my messy brain in my constant quest to become more organised (stationery).

Another idea I have is a fear of things running out. The more I get stressed, the more I think I'm going to forget to buy something or not have time. It's like a perpetual state of fight or flight is going on. If you're familiar with Maslow's hierarchy of needs, that really resonated with me when I was studying it for my Masters.

When I started doing YouTube a few years ago, I felt inadequate and thought the best way was to buy a load of makeup and Ikea Alex drawers. The trouble is I am not very good at or really interested in makeup artistry, so I bought an expensive camera and camera equipment to compensate. Yet neither did any good because it just wasn't me.

How can we kick the cycle? 

Once you've identified why you find yourself in the trap of emotional spending, you can look to deal with those trigger emotions more constructively.

Perhaps writing down your feelings in a journal will help you identify the trigger emotions.

If for example, your trigger emotion is boredom, why not take up a hobby or class?

Perhaps even look into counselling or Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), if you think you're spending is a sign of something more profound.

Start with a clean slate.

If you find yourself surrounded by unwanted items as a result of years of emotional spending like I did, then go through and look to donating the items. That way, you can start with a clean slate.

My aim is to keep decluttering every week and get my things down to a point where I know everything I own. This will hopefully mean I spend less time looking for something and also spend less money through duplicate purchases.

Going into 2020, I have set myself a no-buy challenge. I hope by documenting it that I hold myself more accountable and stop buying things I don't need.

What are your thoughts? 

I would love to know.

Lots of love, 
Helen x

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