The rise of emotional spending: what it is and what can I do about it?

What is emotional spending

Emotional spending are the discretionary purchases that we make that’s guided by a particular feeling at that moment. We might be seeking to feel better, trying to alleviate boredom or using it as a way to cope. With the continuing lockdown, we are spending time indoors and online more than ever. The click from a purchase, brings a small rush of dopamine and that sense of reward, happiness or excitement. The ringing of the doorbell bringing the delivery becomes a highlight in the day. Since these ‘things’ are rarely what we need, we might not even open the package or the item is left unused. We would make regular or multiple purchases impulsively to break up the monotony of another uneventful day.

Quick and easy-to-access credit, along with many online websites offering express checkouts help make these purchases as frictionless as possible. Reducing load times and the number of clicks required means that people seldom think about making informed decisions around what they are buying. Clever online marketing is designed to tempt us into making purchases quickly and easily, particularly on social media. For some people, they may not even remember what they have bought when the package arrives at their door. For others, the purchase is another unnecessary item that they couldn’t afford, that will lead them into further debt.

Regaining control from emotional spending

Find out the places where much of the emotional spending takes place – it might be a case of unfollowing accounts that relentlessly tempt you to spend will help reduce your purchases. It might be helpful to set a budget or place a limit of the number of discretionary purchases you might buy in the course of each month. Avoid saving your card details on websites; this helps to put some friction back into the purchase journey. Is it possible to delay the purchase? This helps to adjust your spending approach to being more intentional, when you’ve had a chance to think over whether the purchase is for something you really need. The delay can insure that the spending is a conscious decision, rather than an impulsive one.

Where the spending is to help us feel better, alleviate low mood or being used as a coping mechanism, addressing the underlying issues is also important. Buying more things doesn’t lead towards feeling more joy. In fact, the realisation of being hooked into buying things you didn’t need often leads to a feeling of guilt or shame. It can be a vicious cycle, sometimes difficult to break on your own. If this applies to you, Compassionate Cuppa can help you to explore this. We’re happy to listen and guide you towards other ways that work for you. Our mission is to uplift mental wellbeing with compassion, one cuppa at a time.

#emotional #spending #wellbeing

Ling Salter of Compassionate Cuppa offers mentoring to individuals to optimise their emotional wellbeing. Feel better and live life well. Find out more or to book your first virtual session free on

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