10 February 2012

Four Easy Steps to Breaking the Emotional Spending Habit

One of the most common reasons for spending, especially over-spending is emotional buying.

Emotional buying and spending do not necessarily involve large sums of money. It's more about why you spend money than how much you spend. Emotional buying means you spend money to feel better or feel good in some way, and you don't really think of the consequences. Emotional buyers often use credit cards for their purchases, because it takes the "sting" out of shelling out cash. It seems like you're not really spending money, and enhances the "feel good" factor.

But emotional buying habits are not healthy, either financially or emotionally. Here are some tips on stopping the destructive behaviour known as emotional buying.

1. Identify the Need

Sources point out that emotional buying is indicative of some sort of unmet need. Maybe you felt deprived as a child, or perhaps you are trying to cope with emotional stress. Of course, this is just a superficial fix. The underlying problem is still there.

Take the time to really think about your spending habits. It might help to identify what emotional needs or issues are at the root of your spending problem. If you can deal with the emotion that's driving the behaviour, you're more likely to be able to stop the spending.

2. Let It Go

It can be tempting to spend because you don't feel adequate. Maybe you're trying to keep up with those Joneses we all seem to have in our lives. Or maybe you are buying inordinate amounts of things for your child(ren) or other family members. Some emotional spenders will rationalise their spending if it's for someone they love. Try to let it go - you're not competing with other families to see how much stuff you can show off.

Remember why you are a Cheapskate. You want to live a debt-free life. Living the Cheapskates way means ditching the things that aren't important to you so you can have and truly enjoy the things that are. That means ignore the Joneses - they are more than likely trying to keep up with the Smiths who are probably in more debt than you are!

3. Turn It Off

Advertising can be a real trap for the emotional buyer. After all, ads are aimed at your emotions and perceived needs. Emotional buyers are especially vulnerable to these tactics. So turn off your television and other sources of ads, and don't browse magazines with lots of ads. It's also a good idea to turn off any shopping networks and not browse through paper catalogues. Unsubscribe from the shopping websites and stop the daily temptation bombardment. Take some time out from the ads that make you want things you don't need!

4. Find Another Outlet

As you are working on the underlying emotional issues that fuel your buying, find other things you can "indulge" in that can act as an emotional pick-me-up or reward. (It's probably not a good idea to make that indulgent item food, however.) Treat yourself to a walk in a nearby park or a workout at the gym, or take in a chapter of a book you've been wanting to read. Just try to avoid any sort of money spending as you think of ways to give yourself an emotional boost.

Give it a go, stop spending. Take part in our annual No Spend month this February, it's not to late to start not spending and change those shopping habits for the better.


  1. I really related to this artical emotional spending i was one for years and was forced to break the habbit after a divorce spending my half of the house money and having to start over cheapskates is exactly what i needed to get my life back on track and stop the spending 3 years i have been saving for a deposit on a house with about another year to go talk about hard work but getting there and proud of the money i now have in the bank for the first time in my life and proud of the person i have become i am quite confident to say i will now always be a cheapskate and never a spender again.

  2. You should be proud of yourself - it's not easy starting from scratch and I know, I've been there.

    In the grand scheme of things (and buying your own home) another year will fly by and before you know it you'll be house hunting and packing and moving and back to paying a mortgage.

    And I'm so glad that Cheapskates helped you on your journey.

  3. This post has come at a good time for me. I have been a cheapskate for a few years now (well, a member anyway), and I seem to be getting worse. Hello, my name is *** and I'm an emotional spender!

    I know why I spend but I'm finding it really hard to stop. The more we seem to earn, the less guilt I seem to have, it's just terrible!

    I must keep reminding myself of this and STOP!

  4. Writing, and reading are good ways for me to stop spending. Or I go to charity stores with a canny friend who finds me great clothes at under $5! I have a nice day without breaking the bank. My challenge comes in the way of friends who want me to spend, as they think that I "deserve " it due to recent stresses. Problem is, it costs.


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