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Emotional spending is the act of spending money for the sake of filling a void. Maybe you are feeling lonely, inadequate, or depressed. So, to offset that feeling, you buy yourself a little something in search of a sense of relief.

The problem with this approach is that the satisfaction from making a purchase is short-lived. Not to mention, you may end up feeling even worse in the long-run. If you are spending money on something you don’t need or cannot afford, that can trigger a feeling of guilt, which will compound the negative feelings you were having before you made the purchase.


I don’t know anyone that hasn’t made an emotionally-charged purchase with the intent of elevating their mood. But as I mentioned before, emotional spending is not a long-term solution for unhappiness. So, with that in mind, have a look at my top tips for curtailing emotionally-driven binge spending.



One of the best things you can do to discourage emotionally-driven purchases is to unsubscribe from retail emails. When you’re feeling low and you get a sale notification from one of your favorite online retailers, it can be difficult to resist the urge to shop. As you well know, shopping usually leads to spending. Spending isn’t a bad thing when you’re buying items you need and can afford. But it’s a different story when you’re trying to curb your impulse to spend money you shouldn’t be spending. Simply eliminating those notifications can go a long way toward helping you get your spending back on track.

Give Yourself Time to Think About it

If you stumble upon something you want but don’t need, give yourself some time to think about it. 24-hours is a helpful rule of thumb. You can take a screenshot or photo of the item and reevaluate after a good night’s rest. If you have the money to spend and it still seems like a good idea the next day, go for it. But if you start to have second thoughts after a period of reflection, take that as a sign that whatever you wanted yesterday probably wasn’t a sound investment.


When it comes to things you don’t really need, a little time away can work wonders. Taking yourself out of the moment allows you to better determine if what you are lusting after is fulfilling a need or if it’s just a misguided whim.


Establish a Splurge Fund

You can add a ‘splurge’ line item to your budget for those purchases that aren’t essential but still important to you. After giving yourself a day to think it over, check your budget and make the purchase if it’s still important to you. Budgeting in these types of expenditures allows you to better track your spending and ensure that you’re not splurging too much on things you don’t really want. Don’t have a budget set up? No problem. I’ve put together an in-depth post on that very subject right here. Insert link.

Ask Yourself Why You’re Making This Particular Purchase

If you are buying something, you should be able to articulate why you’re making that purchase. If you are making that purchase to improve your mood, you are probably making an impulsive decision that is going to leave you feeling empty. Instead, consider heading to a Yoga class or making a trip to the gym or even just going for a walk. Exercise releases endorphins, which naturally make you happy and (unlike binge spending) exercise won’t leave you feeling empty after the endorphin rush has passed.


Don’t Save Your Card Info in Your Phone or Computer Browser

This is one that most people don’t even think about. But it is so crucial. Saving your cards in your web browser is very convenient for online shopping. However, it also makes it so much easier to buy without giving a second thought to what it is you’re purchasing and why. If you actually have to get up from where you’re sitting and go hunt for your wallet, you are more likely to think twice about the purchase you’re about to make. In that time, you can take stock of whether or not you’re buying something for the right reasons.


Well, that concludes my advice on curtailing emotional spending. Be sure to let me know your thoughts in the comments section!

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