Early County News

Help for emotional spenders



Do you shop to make yourself feel better? Balancing work and family demands can be stressful. After working long hours on the job, many face another shift of errands, household duties and family obligations when they get home.

Exercise, proper nutrition, adequate rest, and making time for hobbies, interests, or talents are positive ways to manage stress. Negative options include alcohol, drugs, and other vices — including spending money.

Emotional spenders turn everything into a shopping opportunity.

Tired of spending all your time taking care of everyone else? Go shopping. You can shop for the family AND feel better about yourself.

Mad at your spouse? Go shopping with his or her credit card. Buy something you want AND send a message that there are consequences for ticking you off.

Feel down about gaining weight? Go shopping. Sign up for an expensive weight-loss program and buy a membership to the local gym. You will feel better about yourself for taking action AND if you are successful, will soon need a new wardrobe.

Retail therapy will help you to feel better in the short run. Regret about your purchases often arrives before you make it home, or when you get the credit card bill, or when you need the money for something more important.

Even when you can afford it, overspending to feel better is a problem. Compulsive spending is a form of addiction that, while not considered to be a psychiatric disorder, is an issue for many individuals and families. Compulsive spending leads to financial problems and ultimately, financial ruin.

Recognizing that you have the problem is half the solution. If you suspect emotional spending is a problem for you, there are things you can do to take control of your finances and your long-term financial security.

*Stop Using Credit. Emotional spenders typically carry a balance on one or more credit cards. Keep one credit card in your wallet for emergencies and leave the rest at home. Better yet, cut up all but the one for emergencies and close the accounts.

*Track Your Spending. Find out exactly where your money goes to pinpoint problem spending areas. Use an app or carry a small notebook with you to record what you bought, where you bought it, how much it cost, and why you made the purchase. At the end of every week, review your log. Look for patterns and areas in need of attention.

*Spend Less Than You Earn. It may sound simple, but the key to your longterm financial security is consistently earning more than you spend and investing the difference. The longer you have to save, the greater the potential reward for putting money into an investment or interest-earning account. Look for ways to reduce spending and to increase saving.

*Plan Your Spending. Know what you want your money to do. What are your goals for the immediate and long-term future? How will you handle an emergency or other unexpected expense? You will likely need to prioritize your wants and needs to keep spending and saving in line with your income. Once you have a plan, keep track of your spending to make sure you stick to it.

*Shop Wisely. Use a list and avoid buying items not on your list. Comparison shop, especially for more expensive items. Compare options from different sellers and among competing brands in the same store or online. Use coupons for frequently used items. Remember, no matter how good the sale and how great the savings, it is not a good buy if the item is not needed or will not be used.

*Have a Yard Sale. Emotional spenders often have a house-full of new and barely used goods. Round up unwanted items for a yard sale. Books, music CDs, DVDs and one-of-a-kind items often bring better prices when offered for sale through an online markets. Use the proceeds of the sale to pay down debt or to kick-off a new savings program.

These suggestions can help you to reduce emotional spending. If you have tried to curb your spending without success, you may want to consider a support group or professional help from a trained counselor or mental health professional.

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