At a Glance

Do you find yourself spending money the moment you feel emotional? When you have a bad day, do you quickly turn to online shopping to buy the blues away? Do you reward yourself with a gift when you have an amazing day? You may be an emotional spender.

Since the pandemic, many people find themselves emotionally coping by spending money. When many signed online, they felt a semblance of control every time they purchased something during a time when things were quite uncontrollable in the world.

This feeling of ‘filling the void’ and ‘control’ can give an instant gratification feel in addition to a positive effect on mentality. Psychologists argue emotional spending can now be classified as an addictive disorder as many have become addicted to the behavior.

Here are the top 9 signs you are an emotional spender–and how to fix it:

What is emotional spending?

Emotional spending is when someone spends money in periods of heightened emotions. This can include euphoric moods or when experiencing stress.

Emotional spending can also be considered frivolous spending. Psychology Today revealed emotional spending can lead to compulsive spending–which is now considered an addiction.

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Why we emotionally spend

You may be looking for answers as to why you lean toward spending money when emotions are heightened. Experts believe emotional spending can come from deficits in one’s life, lower self-esteem, or sheer boredom.

The pandemic left us with not much today. Many people jumped online to search for things to buy to fill the void. Psychologists infer that addiction to spending can also be from childhood traumas and the need for a form of control. A clinical psychologist Sheila Forman, Ph.D., revealed that most emotional spending is impulsive and for pleasure reasons–not pragmatic.

9 signs you may be an emotional spender

There are several surefire signs you may be an emotional spender. Nine signs to look out for include:

1. You shop to reward yourself

Whether you received a promotion at work or simply woke up in a great mood, you are ready to spend your dough. If you are using shopping to reward yourself and celebrate an accomplishment, you may be an emotional spender.

2. You can feel regret

Sometimes after a big spend, you may feel guilty. Did you spend more than you should have? Can you no longer afford your bills now that you have shopped? You may be an emotional spender.

3. You need that instant gratification

In a mobile world and at our very fingertips, it can be easy to fall into the ‘instant gratification’ trap. If you feel that impulse and quickly jump to make a purchase to satisfy that instant gratification need, you may be an emotional spender.

@ourcomfycozycorner Emotional shopping anyone? I’m always down. 🤣 #homegoodsshopping #homegoodsdecor #homedecorshopping #emotionalspender #emotionalspending #shoppingtherapy ♬ The Vibe With Ky Sad Add To Cart – Kyrus Keenan Westcott

4. You need a distraction

Stressful situations can pop up every day–even all day. If you are shopping to escape the present moment or as a sheer way to distract yourself, you may be an emotional spender.

5. Trying to stay ahead of the trends

Do you feel the need to stay as trendy as possible and FOMO spending? If you find yourself shopping to compete with others in your circle to show you have the latest and greatest items, you may be an emotional shopper.

6. Trying to create a better version of yourself

It is healthy to always want to improve yourself. However, if you are dissatisfied with your life and who you are, impulsively buying a whole new wardrobe is more damaging than good. If you find yourself doing this, you may be an emotional spender.

7. Buying and returning

You jump online and buy everything in your cart. It arrives at your home, and you suddenly don’t want them anymore. Return. You may be doing this for the simple act of shopping itself. You may be an emotional spender.

8. Bad news shopping

When you receive bad news, you instantly hit the nearest store. You are practicing coping mechanisms in the form of a shopping addiction. You may be an emotional shopper.

9. Stressed about financial issues

Many people spend money–ironically–when they are stressed about money. If you find yourself spending copious amounts of money when you are stressed about your financial situation, you may be an emotional spender.

What are the consequences of emotional spending?

With every action, there is an equal, opposite reaction. Therefore, when you emotionally spend, there are consequences.

You can become dependent and addicted to shopping. Psychologists share that compulsive and impulsive shopping is an addiction that may need psychological intervention. You can end up financially in the hole and even experience feelings of more depression and stress.

Psychologists share that compulsive and impulsive shopping is an addiction that may need psychological intervention.

How to fix it

If you feel you are an emotional spender, don’t fret! There are ways to gain control of your spending habits.

First, create a financial plan and budget. Itemize your bills, debts, and other priorities that require your money first. Stick to your budget to control the urge to frivolous spending.

Do not hide your spending from your closest person/s. They can provide the necessary support to help keep you on track. There is no need to feel guilt, fear, or shame. There is help!

@shewolfeofwallstreet Avoid emotional spending! #moneytiktok #emotionalspender #debtfreecommunity ♬ Pieces (Solo Piano Version) – Danilo Stankovic

Next, practice impulse control by stopping and thinking before taking action. Ask yourself WHY you are considering purchasing something. Is it because you are stressed? Celebrating yourself? There are healthier ways to cope and celebrate yourself for simply being YOU!

Finally, it may be time to consider tackling WHY you jump to emotional spending. Contact a local therapist to discuss underlying issues and what you can do to stop emotionally spending.

Bottom line

Never feel like you are alone. The pandemic unearthed many uncertainties and stresses like never before. If you find yourself purchasing and spending on items you do not need every time emotions run high, you may be an emotional spender.

Emotional spending can be regulated by practicing self-control, reaching out to your support group, and contacting a professional. With discipline and practice, you can learn healthier coping mechanisms versus shopping when you are feeling overwhelmed or the need to celebrate yourself.

You can do this!