Liberating Advice to Struggling Emotional Spenders (From A Hotmess Emotional Spender)
“I’m literally the worst.”
Am I the only one who tells myself this after I gallivant through the mall yet again? With a car of bulky shopping bags, an empty wallet and an even emptier spirit it never fails. I always sit feeling depleted after that unplanned shopping trip.
You don’t completely regret what you just bought (bc let’s face it, those shoes are here for an edge snatch) but you have this overwhelming guilt that always takes over when you pull a stunt like this.
But I mean COME ON. What’s the big deal anyway?
Retail therapy is the cure of all cures, right?
Beginning in high school, I developed this unhealthy habit of running to shopping when I felt my lowest and out of control in my life. Although temporary, I hoped that a new outfit would help me to redesign my inner turmoil.
Just maybe this would be the dress that helped with my awful day at work or the lipstick that would say the right thing to people I hoped to impress. I never really needed anything knew but I would convince myself I did.
Outside of loans, emotional spending was single-handely the one thing that destroyed my finances and if you’re reading this it probably killed yours too.
(Now turn to your neighbor and say, NEIGHBOR. We’ve got to stop wasting our money on a new pair of J’s and late night runs to Whataburger)
The Source of My Emotional Spending Pain Started Here
My emotional spendingness didn’t just pop out of then air. It came in a day that changed me forever.
On a hot summer in Texas, I got a call while I was at work that my father had collapsed at a grocery store. Rushing out of my shift, my mother (they are divorced) and I drove to the hospital. When I ran through those doors, I saw my uncle who had his head hanging low like wilted fruit. I immediately knew.
I was 17 when I lost him to a heart attack.
That life changing event sent me into a world spin. I desperately searched for where my identity could belong. Because he had served in the army, I started to receive a check every month until I graduated high school. My mother saved some for my first semester at college but the rest was game to blow.
And blow I surely did do. I had the newest shoes. Fly clothes, not a stain on me. I ate out at restaurants and drove all around town in my little white 1995 Mercury Tracer. YA’LL. This thing had the automatic seat belts that smoothly slid into place when you closed the doors. Like whet? You couldn’t touch me.
Life looked great on the outside by my internal was filled with abandonment, rejection, unhappiness and the need to be validated.
When I think about it now, I hate that I blew money as a means to escape but the habit grew during college and beyond.
It wasn’t until I analyzed my paycheck to paycheck lifestyle that I knew something had to change.
Why We Are Emotional Spenders and 5 Ways To Chill Out For You Future’s Sake
If you’ve experienced life like I have, most likely you’ve used shopping as a means to escape. And there is NOTHING wrong with that.
But when it starts to become the first thing you turn to when stress levels rise, it’s coping. The problem is that your issues don’t disappear when you charge that card. You just have a fatter bill and a deeper hole to fill.
According to Investopedia, “Emotional spending occurs when you buy something you don’t need and, in some cases, don’t even really want, as a result of feeling stressed out, bored, under-appreciated, incompetent, unhappy or any number of other emotions.” WELL.
For the longest, I didn’t believe that I was an emotional spender until I realized I did this:
- Justified my purchases to myself. Often included the phrases “Man, I deserve this bro” or “It’s just a couple things…or four, no big deal.”
- Sneak and hide bags. I currently stay with my aunt and uncle and STILL do this from time to time.
- Walked away from my purchase with a dash of you shouldn’t have bought that guilt.
- Had and still have a plethora of things I’ve never used or only once.
- Constantly thought about how other people would react to me with that purchase. For example, “Man ima eff em up with this blazer tonight.”
- Wouldn’t check my bank account for days because I already knew it’s looking a mess.
Were you laughing while reading that just now? YOU’RE BROKE. Stop the denial. Or at least get some damb control because it’s ruining your ability to set your future up to win.
Are you still with me? Perf. Here are 5 practical ways to break up with this habit immediately:
#1. Unsubscribe from your store’s email lists
I’m convinced that Amazon and Fashion Nova are the works of the enemy.
To fight your emotional spending, go through your emails and start unsubscribing from all your favorite stores. I get at least 30 emails a DAY from companies:
That’s just from before 7 a.m. I got flooded with these emails EVERY single day.
I realized that I was way more tempted to buy something if I saw the “Hey get your 87% off because it’s the 87th day of the year” email. Let’s just avoid all temptations by wiping them out the inbox.
#2. Don’t Fall For the “Sale” Tactic
Speaking of sales. Be aware of the Buy 2 get one 1 free trick. I humbly admit that H&M got me with this one this weekend. The first thing you think is “What? Free? How could I pass up free?” But the problem is that you didn’t save on anything. You spent more by buying the first two items.
You may catch things on sale but if you’re broke you literally just wasted more money because you saw a sale and are being a cheapo.
I work part time at a handbag store and they always mark up their “sales” prices to make it seem like you’re getting a better deal. You ain’t. Thou shall never be playeth by the Sale sign.
#3. Implement the 24-hour Rule
Most of impulse shopping comes from the need to fill a void right in the moment.Most of impulse shopping comes from the need to fill a void right in the moment. Click To Tweet
You can overcome this by placing your items on hold for at least 24 hours. More often than not, we will forget about that MUST HAVE item as soon as we leave the store.
This not only is great for your bank account but it helps implement discipline and the ability to tell yourself nah.
If you find yourself still dreaming about that item after you’ve left the store, proceed to tip #4:
#4. Give Yourself Permission to Splurge
The reality is that there’s going to be something that always catches your eye. But purchases are way more worthwhile when it’s an item you absolutely love or feel confident AF in.
Create a splurge account or jar and start moving a little money each week. It could be as little as $5-10. Whenever you feel the need to have a retail therapy day, you will get to pull from this instead of your I’m broke and should be saving money jar.
I have an envelope called “fun money” and specifically use it for the emotional, I need a Snickers days.
#5. Piece Together Your Peace
As much as these tips could work, it won’t stop you from spending if your center isn’t whole.
It took me a long time to accept hard truths like that my daddy’s death created some abandonment issues. That I constantly felt insecure unless I received compliments on how I looked. That I ran to shopping and buying food to fill me instead of God and my truths.
I spent because I desperately wanted to be this certain girl, but I wasn’t honoring who I am.
Who are you? Do you know?
A practical way to find out is to remove one big distraction for at least a week. I’ve found that when I am constantly distracted by shows, music, friends, social media and just noise, that I begin to deny what I really want.
But that whisper is always there and will come back to you when you get still. Try to pick something to eliminate and replace it with devotionals, watching an inspirational video or listening to a podcast this week.
Your Retail Therapy Won’t Fix You
You are more than a new bag.
Bigger than a chain or a car.
Explosively larger than any material thing you run to.
Don’t you think it’s time you grabbed control to create the freedom you deserve?
Let’s stop tap dancing for our insecurities and trading outside validation for the peace and control we can create in our 20’s.
You bout it?