Creative Tips to Stop Emotional Shopping and Emotional Spending

emotional shopping

Imagine my surprise to come home from a week in North Carolina earlier this week only to realize that our trip cost us thousands of dollars. Maybe you don’t think that sounds unreasonable for a week-long vacation, but I haven’t gotten to the good part just yet. We packed and headed out last minute to be with my father-in-law when he suffered a medical emergency and required what was originally supposed to be double bypass but turned into a triple bypass in the middle of his surgery. We had two hours to pack and leave, and we couldn’t find flights that would get us there when we needed to get there.

We drove my SUV 11 hours. We stayed all week at my father-in-law’s house. We ate most meals at home, cooking ourselves and filling his freezer with heart-healthy meals for him to enjoy when he’s in the recovery stage of his return home. So, no flights, no rental car, a tank and a half of gas to drive 650 miles, no hotel…what did we spend thousands on? Aside from coffee for us and happy meals for our four kids (and lots of end-of-the-day wine), I shopped online. You see, I have an addiction to emotional shopping.

My husband and I have been married 11 years next week. We’ve been together 15 years this year. Only a handful of times in the past decade and-a-half have I ever witnessed him under so much stress and so much emotional turmoil. Twice was when I miscarried pregnancies, and the other time was when I went into labor a month early with our twins and after a week in the NICU with our babies we were finally forced to go home with only one baby. Saying goodbye to our little 3-pound daughter while we took our 5-pound son home was the worst moment of our lives – even if we didn’t go home until 11 pm and we were back at 9 am to take her home.

My husband was a wreck last week. He was worried, scared and upset. I don’t blame him. Our kids were upset because we were upset. It was a rough week for all of us, and I did what I do best; I got online and bought things because things make me happy when life isn’t making me happy. I hit up Nordstrom for some dresses and some shoes and some candles. Sephora just shipped a box full of brand new lipsticks and other makeup. Carters shipped a box of bathing suits and sundresses and shorts for the kids. Saks sent me a new pair of glasses. Old Navy is shipping leggings and cute tees for my kids. I ordered candles, clothes, shoes, accessories, and I booked a vacation.

Emotional. Shopping.

It’s dangerous. Unfortuantely, we are an emotional bunch of people and we tend to spend a lot of money on emotional shopping. I realize I really have to get a grip on my emotional spending, so I’ve done some research and it seems that professional money-savers and expert emotional shoppers have a few bits and pieces of advice that might work for us. Let’s all try it together.

Use cash

It’s hard to shop online when you don’t have a card on hand. Unfortunately for me, I have my card numbers memorized and I know that if I don’t, I can always just checkout of most stores right with Paypal. So, this is not an option that might work for me, but it might work for other emotional shoppers.

Where this might work is tangible shopping. I cannot spend money I don’t have on my person when I’m in the middle of Nordstrom, can I? I cannot, and that’s why this might be the best option for me when it comes to emotional shopping.

Find an alternate way to get over yourself

When my husband is emotional, he doesn’t shop. He finds more physical ways to get over his emotions and calm down. Whether that’s private time with me, a game of basketball in the driveway, a fun wrestling match with our kids or even taking them into the yard and jumping on the trampoline, he finds a way to expend his emotions along with his energy, and it works well for him. Perhaps the rest of us could take a walk when we feel emotional. We could stop, read a book, write in a journal, call a friend or just spend 15 minutes practicing deep breathing and relaxing yoga moves. Just find something else to do other than shop.

Save items in your cart

This is something that has helped me a lot in the past. Sometimes I find it is all the emotional relaxation I need when I shop for things online, add them to my cart and think about them for a while. When it comes time to check out, though, I then abandon my cart and find something else to do. It has helped me a bit to do this, and sometimes I forget all about those items. Sometimes I realize that I cannot live without them even when I’ve had ample time to calm down, and that’s when I finish checking out. Otherwise, I let it go.

Photo by Getty Images


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