First Person: Overcoming Emotional Spending

Yahoo Contributor Network

Retail therapy is a tempting habit to fall into. Every time life isn't going according to plan, a trusty credit card helps purchase something new and pretty to feel better. This type of self therapy is fine on occasion, but can place a major strain on family finances. I know the consequences first hand.

For a period of my life, I used shopping to feel better about myself. Anytime that my personal problems seemed overwhelming I turned to the one thing that seemed to make me feel better, shopping. A friend and I would frequently go out on shopping trips just because we needed a boost. Closets overflowed with clothing. Many garments still had tags on them months after purchase. Credit card bills came with the amount growing and growing. The financial pressure of those bills added to my stress. I turned to shopping even more. One day over coffee, I broke down in tears talking to a friend. The pressure of my personal and financial issues had become too much. I needed help. My friend helped me develop a plan to overcome my problem. Ever since, financial responsibility has been a priority within my life. These simple steps helped me create a financially sound lifestyle, taking away the habit of emotional spending.

Be Aware: People who are prone to emotional spending need to be aware of why they are making a purchase. If it is for a pressing need, the item can be purchased. If it is for a want, the purchase should be put off. People who engage in retail therapy are in it for the instant satisfaction of the purchase.

Keep a Journal: Keep a journal of all purchases including specifics on the item and the price. Also, make a note of the emotions felt at the time of purchase. Be accountable for each purchase both financially and emotionally.

Set a budget: Have a basic budget for your household. Include all expenses for the month. Prioritize your spending to put the needs first. Find a system of budgeting that works for your lifestyle. Know how much you can spend on non-essentials each week or month.

Pay with Cash: Paying with a credit card or debit card makes people less aware of exactly how much they are spending. Put away the credit cards for emergency use only, such as an unexpected car repair. Never, ever use credit cards for a cash advance. All day to day purchases should be done in cash taken out of your checking account, only. Do not use savings, lines of credit or cash in investments. Changing over to cash only for your purchases will make buying more of a conscious act.

Change your shopping habit: If the urge to shop is overwhelming, go to the grocery store and shop for fresh fruit and vegetables. Channel your retail therapy urges to improve your diet and wellbeing. Focus on eating the fresh fruit and vegetables to gain more nutrition, shifting a costly habit into a healthy one.

Allow yourself a splurge: Allowing a single splurge every once and a while within a reasonable price range is healthy. Just do not leave your budget range or go overboard. Allocate a small, affordable amount to spend on a non-essential purchase.

With a few simple changes to my life, I regained the financial control that I desperately desired. My confidence soared. More inner strength to deal with life's problems started to shine through. The grocery store trick worked wonders. My health improved with healthy foods, benefiting both my pocketbook and waistline. I am now very conservative in my spending. This allows me to live the life that I desire.

*Note: This was written by a Yahoo! contributor. Do you have a personal finance story that you'd like to share? Sign up with the Yahoo! Contributor Network to start publishing your own finance articles.

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