How to stop emotional spending

It has been a bad day. My ex-husband showed up to take my kids, I am all alone and I immediately think about how I could get out of the house. Several hours later I trudge back into the house, still too quiet, this time with several shopping bags in tow. There goes my budget.

I was sick and tired of going through this every time I had to hand over my kids. Sick of the emotional need to feel in control of something when I was so adrift. That is what my shopping came down to, I felt like I had no control of my life. I would take back the feeling of control at the cost of my financial well-being.


If the spending is coming from my need to feel in control, then why was I undercutting my financial control? Makes no sense (at least to me now). I had to take control of something though. Preferably without spending money at all.

Whether it is frustration with a person, a situation, or a crisis, I like to feel better by doing something. It doesn’t have to be something directed at the person, situation, etc., but getting up and moving gets my mind focused on something.

Would you rather?

Here are some ways that I re-direct my emotional spending urge in a positive way:

1. Make a connection.

I will call or message someone that I don’t normally have time to talk to. I need to be distracted from the urge to spend, so I become distracted by someone else’s life.

2. Turn on your favorite show.

I have watched Pride and Prejudice (the 6 hour BBC version) so often in the last few months that I can quote it almost verbatim. I usually pair this with a hands-on project like putting contact info on the back of my business cards or put together a puzzle.

3. Cook something new. 0907162225c

I break out my cookbooks when I’m by myself (my kids don’t eat spicy food, but I love it), I immerse myself in cooking something I have never tried before. Last week I made some wonderful homemade Ricotta Cheese to snack on with crackers.

4. Finish a project.

Whenever I get the urge to go shopping I break out the sewing machine and my totes of garage sale fabric. I work on my stack of cloth napkins or make my daughters a new skirt.

5. Sell something online.

I have a pile in my office closet, of things that I have been meaning to list on Facebook or craigslist. Usually once the pile gets too big, I end up taking it all to the thrift store, what a waste. Now, I take two or three things, take some good pictures and put them online. It usually ends up taking me a few hours and is a great distraction. Not to mention that I am making money this way instead of spending it.

6. Visit the library. 0915161612

Nothing beats a good book, at least in my estimation. I have a small town library where I live. The type where I can visit with the librarians and they have read just about every book known to man. I love to ask what they recommend this week and immerse myself into a different world, what a great escape.



7. Get outside.

Rather than drive to the store and walk around looking for something to buy, I will just walk around. I make sure my cell is charged and either turn on Amazon Music or a new audio book.

8. Pick one room.

Redo all the pictures, paint a wall, deep clean and move the furniture. It takes less time than you would think. I pick one room every weekend when my kids are gone and deep clean and reorganize one room. I redid my daughter’s room a couple weeks ago and made some new curtains. It’s such a nice feeling to love your house.

09041608519. Build a business.

I started selling with a direct sales company because I needed something to keep my hands and mind occupied. I go to craft shows and local events during the weekends when my children visit my ex-husband. It’s not only a great way to fill time, but it makes a nice little profit on the side.

10. Write a letter.

There is something so satisfying about posting a letter in the mail. I love knowing that I made someone else’s day when they receive a piece of handwritten mail. I keep a stack of homemade postcards at home that my kids and I have painted just for these occasions.

I always try and remember that I am in control of my spending. It might feel good for a few minutes after that ‘buying high’, but I always regret any emotional spending after the fact. Sometimes I do slip up and buy something, I just accept it as a slip-up and move on.

What causes you to go on an emotional spending trip? What sorts of things do you end up buying to get that ‘buying high’?