Do you know what an emotional spender is? Here are 6 signs that you might be one.

Here are 6 signs that your emotions might be ruling your spending habits

It would be simple if we spent money on material things only when we needed something. However, human psychology is anything but simple. Everyone spends money differently based on their motivations, needs and thought processes. Accordingly, we spend for a variety of reasons – to treat ourselves, to make a loved one happy, to heed to social norms, etc. 

Sometimes, we end up spending more as a response to negative emotions such as sadness, guilt, lack of self-worth, etc. This act is known as emotional spending. In today’s consumerist world, it would be wrong to believe that only the rich over-spend or suffer from emotional spending. The behaviour is prevalent amongst all socio-economic sections of society.

Do you think you might be an emotional spender? These 6 signs will help you understand if you are indulging in it for the wrong reasons. And more importantly, if you are, it will also help you with ways to fix this.         

1. You consider shopping a status symbol 

If you tend to shop only as a means to hang out with your friends or to post pictures on Instagram with your latest Gucci bag, you might be an emotional spender. A lot of your shopping decisions are based on what other people think of you. You don’t shop because you need or want something. You do so because you want to be perceived in a certain light by certain people.

2. You think shopping is the way to happiness

It is an absolutely natural inclination to buy new and sometimes, expensive things once in a while. However, if you tend to correlate your shopping with how happy you are, chances are that you are an emotional spender. The psychology of instant gratification prevails largely among millennials and Gen-Z, and it is likely that you are a part of this trend by default. If shopping is the only way you feel happy, it is time to seek help from well-wishers. 

Related: Do you spend as much as these actresses on beauty products? 

3. You feel a makeover will fix things

If you are sad about certain things in life and end up shopping as an outlet for that grief, it’s a sign that you could be an emotional spender. Buying new things, or getting a new haircut will not fix the underlying problem. It may make you feel good for a short period, but the unhappy feeling is bound to resurface sooner or later unless dealt with directly and entirely.

4. You see shopping as a reward for things done well

Aced an exam? Time to shop. Scored a promotion? Let’s party tonight! If you are an emotional spender, you will feel compelled to celebrate every positive outcome. While there is nothing terribly wrong with it, do you really need to throw money around every single time to reward yourself for an accomplishment? You may have earned it, but saving up the extra cash to achieve a life goal is a more sensible thing to do.

Related: 10 Reasons that drive women to overspend

5. You shop to compensate for other shortcomings

If you feel the need to shop to compensate for things you don’t do, such as spend time with a loved one or because of the material things you didn’t have while growing up, you could be spending emotionally. Some get lost in books to escape, and some listen to music – you spend! You likely see spending as a way to avoid facing stressful issues head-on in life. You need to realise material things will not solve the problem, but could burn a hole in your pocket, and this could result in other problems. 

6. You shop as a response to stress

Let's say a tiff with your partner or money-related stress act as your triggers. If your immediate response is to open a shopping app and indulge in retail therapy, then it's a red flag that your emotional spending quotient is quite high. Buying things you don’t need at all is extremely unhealthy for your emotional, mental and financial health. 

If you identify with more than three of the above six signs, it is time to take a step back and re-evaluate your financial choices. Take action to pull yourself out of this rabbit hole. You can seek help from family, friends, peers, and if need be even professionals. Learn how to overcome impulsive spending behaviour. Take up a hobby such as dancing, art, reading or something that makes you happy and can shift your focus away from spending emotionally. Create a tight budget that you have to stick to, no matter what. 

It is not hard to overcome emotional spending. All you need is a solid plan and the will to succeed. The shift may not happen overnight, but if you keep working at it, it will become the new normal before you know it. Take a look at this infographic which explains where women spend most of their money. This will help you appreciate some of the trigger points and work towards managing emotional spending impulses.