Emotional Spending During Life Under Quarantine

I recently sat down to speak with Behavioral Therapist Arnold W. Gillo, LCSW about emotional spending habits, what triggers them, and how we can help reduce or eliminate them. Read below to learn more about emotional spending and be sure to tune in to Episode 014 to listen to the interview.

What is Emotional Spending?

Emotional spending is the act of buying things with the motivation to make you feel better. Most of the time whenever we engage in emotional spending it’s because we are wanting validation, wanting to feel better about ourselves. The problem with that is that emotional spending leads us to a short-term solution. According to Arnold, emotional spending can be a sign that there are other psychiatric, emotional, or relationship issues which can cause individuals to be a in a state of heightened anxiety and emotional state where they are not feeling good about themselves. 

How has Life Under Quarantine Impacted Emotional Spending?

We have never been in this situation before where you find that both husband and wives or partners or the kids at home without being able to go out for a prolonged period of time. It can be a really stressful situation. What’s driving the current emotional spending is the social anxiety and the fear of the unknown. For example, when this started a few weeks ago, people rushed to buy supplies. There are many families also who depend on one sole provider whose income has gone down or has been laid off. This situation has definitely intensified some relationship issues, feelings of loneliness, and feeling unappreciated. This can cause one to emotionally eat or shop in order to feel better in the current moment.

What Are Some Ways to Help Prevent or Curtail Emotional Spending?

There are a number of things that people can do as follows:

  1. Recognize the Problem

When you make a purchase, ask yourself if you really need the items. One practice I suggest when shopping online is to add the items to the shopping cart but not completing the purchase until the next day. This way if after having slept on it you still feel that you need the item, you can proceed with the purchase. Otherwise you might realize it was just an impulse purchase to make you feel good in the moment, and you can just easily remove it from the cart.

  1. Unsubscribe from Unsolicited Offers & Emails

We are currently being advertised to, in the mail, online, and pretty much every where we go. You can control some of the advertisements you get. One way is to unsubscribe from email lists from vendors whom you’ve purchased from before. There’s always a sale, there’s always an “act now or miss out” advertisement in your inbox. Simply unsubscribe in order to minimize the temptation. You can also go to www.optouprescreen.com and opt out of receiving unsolicited pre-approved offers in the mail.

  1. Have an Accountability Partner

This can be a spouse, significant other, or a friend. Have someone you check in with before you make any large purchases. They might be able to give you some perspective and perhaps make you realize that you do not need it or that the purchase can wait. Or that person can offer an alternative that is a good compromise, like a cheaper item instead.

Have a Question?

Send me an email at Luis@onmywaytowealth.com and let’s get started on pursuing your financial goals together. Be sure to tune in to Episode 014 to listen to the interview. To get bi-monthly financial tips for Gen Xers sign up for my newsletter and subscribe to the podcast.