Avoiding Emotional Spending During the Winter

As winter continues to roll on a copious amount of winter storms have recently hit the US and left many people stuck in their homes. Between the cold weather, the lack of sunshine and the poor road conditions people often turn to online shopping to drive away some of the winter blues. Shopping for anything can be at times a euphoric release for some individuals. On the extreme end of these type of people are those who have been labeled as shopaholics, but even those persons who do not consider themselves to be addicted to shopping can have emotional spending habits that are driving them towards financial insecurity or even into debt.

Shopping Feels Good

Emotional shopping or shopping to fill an emotional void or need of any kind is something that many people succumb to at some point in their life. The purchasing of a new item often helps people to lift their spirits, raise their self-confidence, or even gives them the feeling of doing something nice for another person when they buy items for their family or friends.

This type of emotional spending is fundamentally different than the occasional impulse buy, another common characteristic of the American consumer. No, emotional shopping may look similar to a last second purchase of an item that catches a person’s eye but it is far different and far more financially destructive.

Emotional Buys vs. Impulse Buys

When a person succumbs to an impulse buy of the new pair of shoes that seemingly called their name or the newly released Hollywood blockbuster “on sale” in the checkout line, they fall for the items that appeal to them and would appeal to them almost any day of the week. Only on this particular day they did not have the discipline to avoid spending the money and buying the item.

But impulse buying, while still potentially damaging to a person’s finances, is not nearly as big an issue as emotional shopping. Emotional shopping occurs when a person buys items or services simply to feel better or to somehow fulfill another emotional need.

The common scenario of the emotional shopper is a rough week at work followed by a shop-till-you-drop weekend at the local mall or shopping center, but while this devil-may-care shopping spree can often uplift a person’s spirits the harm done to a person’s finances can be extremely damaging. It is this type of spending that a person should guard themselves from the most as it is the most likely to weigh an otherwise financially healthy individual down into the depths of financial insecurity and debt.

Professionals have deemed this emotional shopping as a compulsive buying disorder, and as with other disorders, the compulsive buyer can and should seek help to overcome their heavy consumer practices. Compulsive buying, unlike impulsive buying, often leads individuals to feel like they have to buy something in order to complete their emotional needs.

The compulsive buyer can identify themselves as such if they feel a rush of euphoria while buying items, if they feel compelled to shop when over stressed, if they turn to frequent shopping sprees to boost their mood, or even if they have frequent remorse after purchasing frivolous items (which is the practical side of the brain telling the emotional side that a person is overspending on needless things).

How to Overcome Emotional Shopping

Some ways for a compulsive buy to curb the habit of emotional spending include finding new activities to replace binge shopping, removing oneself from the temptation by not always carrying a wallet or payment method, identifying and avoiding shopping triggers, and by seeking professional help.
By recognizing the need for change and taking the steps necessary to enact a change in spending habits, a compulsive emotional buyer can start now to save the money they desire and to live a more finically stable life.

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