How to Deal with Emotional Spending

Although money seems straightforward, the truth is, there are a ton of emotions tied up in all of our financial decisions.

Whether you feel anxious over how much debt you have, feel guilty over buying yourself one small splurge, are scared of investing, or feel distressed over not making enough money, know that you're not alone.

As most of you saw, I had a few emotional moments along my journey. I shed a ton of tears when I finally paid off my debt and I had many moments where I simply couldn’t see the light at the end of my long debt-free journey.

There was one point where the stress was so high on my debt-free journey where my health even took a serious toll.

Now, I’m not going to sit here and tell you to never splurge on yourself. Going debt-free does not mean you need to live in a cave and never see your loved ones or have a single meal outside of your kitchen.

The real focus you should have is making sure you manage your emotions through your financial journey.

There will be times on your journey that you will slip up. You’ll make mistakes. You’ll order take out when you’re trying to save. You’ll accidentally break something and have to pay to have it replaced.

What you don’t want to do when these situations occur is to keep beating yourself up for days or weeks.

Accept your mistakes and plan for them

If you made a financial mistake, or splurged more than you planned to, don’t let that open a door to giving up on your financial goals.

Sometimes, once people make money mistakes, they throw in the towel completely. It’s similar to someone who breaks their diet with one treat and then binges for the rest of the week.

We all make mistakes! If you know yourself well, you might be able to plan ahead for your mistakes. For example, if you know every Friday you’re so exhausted from work that you always order take-out, maybe you have a frozen pizza ready to go in your freezer instead of pretending you’ll have the energy to cook that night.

Or, maybe you know that you always buy books at your favorite book store every month, so you allow yourself one book after a big milestone.

It doesn’t do you any good to pretend that you’re going to become a different person overnight and be completely disciplined all the time. Instead, plan ahead for your emotional spending and give yourself some wiggle room.

Everyone has emotional money triggers, so find yours and know what you’re going to do when you encounter them.

Include rewards along your journey

The biggest mistake people make along their debt-free is to never, ever reward themselves for their hard work. That doesn’t mean go out and get yourself right back into debt, but if you’re putting in the work, you should give yourself a small reward for that.

People rarely reward themselves because they think spending any extra money is “bad” when in fact it can be the mental life raft to keep you motivated and going forward.

Work through your emotional spending

It may or may not work for you, but sometimes journaling or talking to friends as your feelings come up can help you work through them.

You might need a few days off from thinking about your finances, which is hard when debt can feel all-consuming.

Another idea is to make a “wish list” of things they want to buy can help them feel better. However, if you’re someone who often makes impulse purchases, it might be a good idea to stay off of all shopping websites.

Think about the end of the journey

One more thing that might help is to think about how it will feel to finally hit your goals. Think of how you’ll feel when you’re finally debt-free and the relief you’ll regularly feel.