Do you go shopping when you are sad or when you are feeling sorry for yourself? Do you know if you have a “shopping trigger” that pushes you to go and buy something? Buying something or spending money is supposed to make up for any bad feelings or emotions you are experiencing at that moment. You may feel better after you have done the deed but the feeling is deceptive and temporary. Why? Because it does not solve the root cause of your unhappiness in the first place.
Some people may even need a pick-me-up daily, to get over the stress of working at a job they do not like. What about those who shop when they are happy? Yep, it is also common to indulge in some retail shopping to reward oneself over some achievement, big or small.
Have you ever spent money to show that you belong to a certain group of friends? Yeah, peer pressure can drive you to spend unnecessarily as well. Then again, a person can spend and spend just to show off that he is moving upwards even if he has to max out his credit cards in order to do so.
Right, so there is always a reason to spend money. However, nobody is holding a gun to your head to force you to part with your money. What does this mean? This means that you are ultimately in control all the time. To spend or not to spend, you decide for yourself. If you spend or shop when you feel sad, find a substitute solution. Instead of retail therapy, try to chat with a supportive friend which may offer you some relief. You can also offer support and encouragement to a friend who is in the same boat and move forward together.
If you recognize that you are emotionally driven most of the time to spend money, face it head-on and put a stop to this destructive habit. You may feel resentful and may even hate yourself at that particular moment of denial. It is not easy to deny yourself the pleasure of spending money and getting all excited about it. But later, much, much later, you will see the wisdom of your actions. Only later you will appreciate not falling into the same trap of emotional spending repeatedly. Hey, we have all been there. Each one of us has experience the bitter disappointment of spending denial at one time or another. However, the reward at the end of the road is good.
You just have to keep reminding yourself of it. You break a very bad habit and get to preserve your money for the future. Acknowledge that your emotions can drive you to spend money and instead of giving in to this bad habit, resolve to put a stop to it. Then, find a solution or a better method to address your main problem.
Jacquelyn is the co-author of the books “Teaching Your Kids About Money” and “Top 93 Personal Finance FAQs in Malaysia” with KC Lau. Jacquelyn is the pseudonym used by Amy Sipagal.