For most people, the holidays are emotional times, and emotions affect behavior. But if you let your emotions take control, your finances may suffer.
I honestly admit I’ve succumbed to emotional spending lately. Around Thanksgiving time, I spent money out of excitement. It was exciting to be getting ready for Christmas. It was exciting to be bombarded with so many sales and special deals. It was exciting to buy so many new toys that I was just positive my kids would love to open Christmas morning. However, it was not exciting trying to keep track of receipts.
I got some great deals online on Thanksgiving Day. I got some great deals on Black Friday. I got some great deals Thanksgiving weekend. Then, I got some great deals on Cyber Monday. I got so caught up in the excitement of “great deals” that I didn’t notice how much shopping I had done… until it was time to tally the total and see if I had any money left for buying Christmas cards! Luckily, I did have some money left, but my shopping didn’t end there.
I had most of my Christmas presents bought, but then the “joy” of Christmas came. Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas. I love celebrating with my kids. I love a lot of things about Christmas. But there are times when I let stress and loneliness get the best of me.
Do you want to guess how I deal with those emotions? Yeah, I shop. With 3 young kids, I don’t get out to shop much, but thanks to the internet, I don’t have to leave my house to buy tons of unnecessary items. I can just do it from the comfort of my computer chair.
By now, you’re probably expecting to hear that I’ve spent my life savings, maxed out my credit card, and ate a whole box of cookies. (Yeah, I said cookies. I tend to be an emotional eater sometimes, too.) But I’m happy to report that none of those things have occurred, not even eating cookies! My budget is fine, though probably only because I had some money saved for Christmas presents.
It’s so hard not to give in to emotional spending. I hope you have an easier time resisting the urge to spend than I do. But when I do shop, even when I’m shopping because of my emotions, I still don’t make large purchases. Somehow, I’m able to keep in mind that I’d end up regretting it later.
Instead, I make small purchases that seem like good deals to me. I search for clearance items. I set a fixed amount of how much I’m willing to spend. My favorite trick is to use online coupon codes. I just go to retailmenot.com and type in the name of the store I’m shopping at. There are usually tons of coupon codes listed for whatever store I type in. I think Kohl’s may be my favorite though because they allow you to use 2 coupon codes at a time, so I usually get free shipping and 20% off.
Of course it would be better to just avoid emotional shopping all together, but if you really don’t think you can, make sure you exert some self-control. Just because you shop, doesn’t mean that you’ll blow your budget.
I know I could avoid emotional shopping by talking to a friend, going for a walk, or even cleaning. You can probably think of ways to control yourself too, and that’s great. After all, if distraction doesn’t work, although it may temporarily make you (or me) feel better to blow some cash on something frivolous, the money would probably be better spent on a therapist that could help you (or me) deal with the root of the problem. If you get seriously depressed around the holidays, or anytime, there’s nothing wrong with seeking help. Some people suffer from addictions, like shopping or eating, so if you need help, get it. If not, try to control yourself or find a distraction.
Article by Randi Millward