Tips to stop emotional purchases

Stopping emotional purchases can be challenging, but with some strategies and self-awareness, you can regain control over your spending habits. Here are some tips to help you stop emotional purchases:

1. Recognize Your Triggers

Pay attention to the situations or emotions
that tend to lead to
impulsive purchases. Common triggers include stress, boredom, sadness, or even
peer pressure. By identifying these triggers, you can be more aware when they
arise and take proactive steps to manage them without resorting to shopping.

2. Create a budget and stick to it: Establish a
realistic budget
that includes your necessary expenses and financial goals. Allocate specific
amounts for different categories such as groceries, bills, savings, and
discretionary spending. When you have a clear budget, it becomes easier to
resist the urge to make impulsive emotional purchases that don’t align with
your financial plan.

*** Here we have to be
cautious budgeting works only for approximately 30% of the people, for the rest
of us it does not work. So here are some additional tips if budgeting is not
for you

Start Small and Simple

Do a daily planner for your
spending. I started with just a pen and paper, then used Excel and they ask our
CTO to create this tool:

idea is very simple, every day early in a morning I create a list of what I
plan to buy for the day, for you the night before might work better. So, I will
put in groceries, paying bills, buying a t-shirt. If during the day other items
grab my attention either from an email or an ad, I don’t buy it. I put it on my
Desire List which I review the next day. If I see the value and interest in the
item a day later I buy it, if I don’t I remove it from my list.

Once you get it to work move on to the montly planner:

Again start Small and Simple

Just put together every month on how you plan to spend your money, this is different from budgetin and it actually Works!!! 

This is what I do at the beginning of each month, I list:

What I Need

What I Want

What I will Buy

Then I put the items that are still interesting, but somehting I should not be spending money on this month on my Wish List

And then I also brainstorm where I can save money this month. For example I always try to figure out ways to order less food from restaurants. It really saves a lot of money for my family and it keeps us healthier. Or another great example is cancelling subscriptions that we don’t need. 

As you can see, we did not have to spend hours and hours on a crazy and painful budget. 

However we put more money in our pocket, that we can actually invest and grow if we choose to. 

We are making ourselves Wealthier!!! and Closer to Financial Freedom!!!


3. Delay your purchases

When you feel the impulse to buy something on an
emotional whim, make a habit of delaying the purchase. Give yourself a
cooling-off period, such as waiting 24 to 48 hours before making a decision.
During this time, you might find that the desire to buy diminishes, and you can
evaluate the purchase more rationally.

Here is a cool fact. Delaying your purchase only by 5 minutes, reduces a chance of you buying something impulsively, something you don’t actually need by 50%. Think about the power of delaying your purcases.

4. Practice Mindful Spending

Mindfulness can help you become more aware of your thoughts and emotions related to spending. Before making a purchase, pause and ask yourself if it aligns with your values, needs, and long-term goals. Consider whether you genuinely need the item or if you’re buying it based on an emotional impulse.

Then also consider how long you would have to work for this item.

And how far away does it really take you away from reaching your financial goals and your financial freedom

5. Monitor and Avoid Shopping Triggers

We all have certain stores, online platforms or social media accounts that tend to trigger emotional purchases, perhaps it’s best for us to limit our exposure to them. For example, I have removed Facebook from my phone, because it was very good at suggesting staff for me to buy which I had no plans buying. One of those purchases were t-shirts that help you hide your stomach 🙂 I still use Facebook, however I do it only on one of my laptops and only with specific goals. Like posting on SwipeSwipe FB page ; saying happy birthday or doing research within certain groups. You don’t need to go that far, just thinkg what can be a better system for you that you are comfortable with.

Also, it might be a good idea to unfollow the brands that you tend to buy emotionally on all your social media accounts. For example I really like jeans from Brand (X) and every time they had a 50% sale I would get excited and just buy them. Now I have so many of them, that it’s not practical for me to use even half of them, so I will sell them, take a loss on it and the rest I will invest.

Adblockers can be a good idea as well, however my experience with them is mixed. Some websites you can’t use without removing your ad blocker and on some sites like Yahoo I could not get any of them to work. My suggestion is create the best get around for you that you can. Mine is simple, if I want to use a website and the choice is to pay for it or get ads, I consider very hard if there is another free alternative, if not, my choice is to pay for the website service and not see ads. The reason is that most of them are just $5 or $10 a month, it’s less than what I would overspend if I saw all of their ads. And I don’t use a free Yahoo account anymore, I love their Yahoo Finance so I decided to bite the bullet and pay for it. On a paid version, I can control the ads 🙂

You need to be very careful with subscriptions, they tend to become a problem if you don’t use a service and pay for it. Every month I review my subscriptions and if I don’t see a value in any of them, I cancel them. Just keep a list of all of them somewhere and have three columns next to each. Did this service provide value for me last month? Will it provide value for me next month? Is there a free alternative that I can use as a substitute?

Avoid shopping areas where you feel vulnerable. For example my wife and I we have a soft spot for a mall that is about 1 hour away from where we live. If we go there, we always buy something, regardless of whether we need it or not. They have high quality items at a discount and many of their items we simply love. Our solution is that we go there only twice a year. And each time we both create a separate list of what we want to buy. And then we also agree to be able to spend $150 each on any item we want that is not on the list or $300 on any item for our household together instead of individual $150. We also, walk the isles together and support each other, checking if the item is on the list before purchasing. This give us more accountability and it works.

All of the things that we have discussed above are prompts to your actions to buy emotionally. Without such a prompt no action is taken. If you remove the triggers or even just limit them you will have less prompts to take the action, the action to spend your money and that will lead you to be happier, feel less guilt and be on your way to fiancial freedom. Experiment with changing your environment as much as you can, sometimes it can be a little painful, many times you will fail, however don’t get discouraged, just keep experimenting and start small, very small, make very little changes in the beginning. 


6. Find new ways to handle stress and emotional buying

Instead of turning to shopping as a way to deal with
emotions, explore healthier alternatives. Engage in activities that bring you
joy and fulfillment, such as exercising, reading, spending time in nature,
meditating, or pursuing hobbies. Find ways to manage stress or emotional distress
that don’t involve spending money.

Modern world is very complex and demanding, we are all working more than we should and probably getting paid less than we should. We want to reward ourselves for working very hard. Or perhaps we have hit a difficult patch in our lives and  we just want to feel better or fill that void. Many of us turn to shopping to do that. And it usually feels great for a very short period of time, however after a short period of time that feeling is gone. And we feel unsatisfied again, however we are out of money and we have lots of stuff that we don’t really need. 

Instead find at least two new ways how you can make yourself feel better without spending money. For example we discovered working out and hiking. Every day we either go for a run or we work our with weights. The cost is really minimal, gym membership. It gives us lots of energy, more posititivity, ability to better handle stress and downturns and it actually helps us a lot when it comes to keepingj our money.

Same goes with hiking. It’s amazing. There ae lots of studies out there that show positive mental and physical benefits to spending time in nature. We just love going to the mountains once a week on a weekend and just spend the day in the woods of a mountain or two 🙂 

We also both are meditating. I just recently took a course on MBSR with Bill McCracken, it was really an amazing experince that I highly recommend. It really helped me to get more grounded and taught me how to control my emotions better. You can take a class with him, please say hi from me as well: (PS I am not getting paid for this recommendation).

7. Get Helps and Support

All of us will find it somewhat challenging to break the cycle of emotional purchases. I did, for me it was difficult, unpleasant, made me feel unaccomplished, cheap, afraid, angry, etc. I was questioning my identity, my accomplishments and my self worth. I mad every mistake possible. However, I did not give up. I kept learning about myself, I was asking others for help, support and new ways to do and see things.

I learned that no matter how much money you have, you can’t buy everything you want in this world. I learned that you have to understand your values first. It’s your values that need to drive your purchasing decisions. For example I was buying too many fountain pens and we ordered too much take out food for lunch and dinner. It had nothing to do with our values and goals in life. We can live without fountain pens and we can cook most of our food. 

However by overspending there we have been limiting the type of house we can afford, the type of education our kids will have, our choices of when and how much we want to work. And that was an eye opener. 

We asked for support from our friends and family. We openly discussed our issues and asked for advise and accountability. Some of our family members would check in on us once a week and just ask if we made any improvements.

We read a lot of literature on how to stop overspending. We read books, blogs, watched podcasts and emailed “experts”. We tried everything that made sense to us. And then we mixed and matched knowledge and created our own tools and systems.

We would also recommend joinin local debt anonymous groups or similar groups. You are not alone at this. And you can change your overspending behavior.

We did. I don’t buy pens on emotions. In fact I have not bought a pen in a very long time. Now I am thinking that perhaps I should just plan my pen purchases and decide which pen I want to buy and put away a few bucks every month until I have enough to get one. This will give me a pleasure of having what I want and will keep me away from overspending.

We order our once a week and we go out to a restaurant once a week. I will show the full magnitutude of these savings in a separate blog. However it’s huge, really huge. What we are saving, we are investing to make our money grow. And just changing these two behaviors will put millions of dollars in our money investment account over the next 30 years. 


In Summary

Changing habits takes time and effort. Be patient with yourself and your family. Support each other. Celebrate small victories, always. When thing don’t go to plan, slow down, break your tasks into small tasks, make them easire to do. Experiment and find out what works for you. Know what you want and let values and goals drive your spending. “Tiny Habits” by B.J. Fogg is an amazing book that I have read many times that has helped me design a number of ways to change my habits and habits of my family:

Further Reading

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