5 ways to avoid stress spending

Discover ways to control stress spending today to feel more confident about your finances tomorrow.

A woman accepting a package at her front door

It’s a fairly common practice to buy something to boost your mood. Maybe you’ve made an impulsive online purchase at your favorite clothing store or decided to upgrade your television with the easy “1-click” purchase option on Amazon. Unfortunately, when people let their emotions control their spending habits, it may lead to shame, guilt, and, eventually, financial woes. While a few emotional shopping sprees aren’t likely to cause harm, it’s best to avoid this practice.

Here are a few ways to avoid stress — or emotional — spending:

  1. Understand your spending triggers.1 What tempts you to make an unplanned purchase? Maybe you’re bored late at night, or you’ve received some difficult news. Some may find they spend money freely to celebrate accomplishing a milestone. Take careful note of these triggers to control your impulse to spend money. As you do, you can replace that impulse with other ways to handle your emotions — such as taking a walk, exercising, socializing with friends, doing something creative, or practicing yoga.
A mother practicing yoga with her child

Do you ever shop to boost your mood? It may be time to try something new.

  1. Track your purchases. You can easily track your spending using online or mobile banking. Pay particular attention to the time of day you’re spending money on unnecessary items — and whether you’re making large or small purchases. Knowing how you spend your money will help you develop a strategy to improve.
  2. Follow the 48-hour spending rule. The item you want may not seem so exciting a couple of days later — allow yourself to “get over it.”2 For larger purchases, consider taking more time to decide if the item meets a critical need or is just something you like.
A woman is online shopping on her tablet

Have you found yourself buying more online? Use the 48-hour rule.

  1. Use a shopping list. Before you go shopping, make a list and stick to it. You’ll avoid impulse buys and save money at the same time.
  2. Ask a trusted family member or friend to help. Share your desire to improve your spending habits with your significant other, a trusted friend, or a mentor. Meet with this person regularly to review your impulse buys. While it may feel uncomfortable to discuss this information at first, accountability may provide the motivation you need to walk away from an unnecessary purchase.

Outside influences combined with emotions and feelings may nudge you toward making an unnecessary purchase. Find ways to control your spending now so you can feel more confident about your finances in the future.

1 https://www.money-rates.com/personal-finance/how-to-stop-spending-money.htm
2 http://www.ofi.state.la.us/SECSevenWaysToReduceEmotionalSpending.pdf