11 Tips to Stop and Overcome Emotional Spending

how to stop emotional spending

I have always caught myself spending money because of various emotions or depending on my moods. This have led me into this rabbit hole of trying to understand how to stop emotional spending.

If you are like me, you know how helpless you can feel sometime trying to overcome emotional spending.

That is why am sharing with you this information. It is aimed at helping you control how your emotions affect your spending habits. Yes, spending based on emotions is a habit.

The good news is that like all other habits, you can also control and stop the habit of emotional habits.

What is Emotional Spending?

To help you understand what you are dealing with, it is important that you understand what emotional spending is all about.

Emotional spending or retail therapy is the buying of things with the aim of improving your mood or emotions.

You can do this when you are experiencing stress or when you are feeling low. These emotions make you spend money in the hope you will feel better.

The things you are sometimes referred to as comfort purchases. You get a feeling of ‘çomfort’ and happiness after you engage in emotional spending.

For example, you might feel the craving to buy a bar of chocolate when feeling low. You feel good when eating your chocolate and your mood might be improved.

However, it is possible you will feel low again and realize your spending provided only a short-lived sense of joy.

Technology Making it Easy to Spend Emotionally

Research indicates that about 62% of shoppers have bought something to improve their feelings and cheer themselves up.

It is possible that you have done this at some point. Spending money on yourself can make you feel really good.

You can even argue that it helps in reducing stress, anxiety and will improve your moods.

In today’s world it is very easy to make purchases. With increased use of mobile phones, you can use the various online shopping platforms to buy an item and have it shipped to you within a few hours.

The trouble is when retail therapy prevents us from paying our bills on time, breaking our budgets, lying or hiding purchases, and feeling guilty or shame.

Unfortunately, letting emotions impact our money decisions can lead us down the wrong path.

How to Stop Emotional Spending

In general terms, spending has increased over the last couple of years. This includes online shopping as seen with the rise of platforms such as Amazon, and payment processing platforms like PayPal among others.

As people buy more things, so has the need for emotional spending risen.

This is how you can stop or overcome emotional spending;

  1. Create a fun budget
  2. Eat before you go shopping
  3. Avoid impulse buying
  4. Take personal responsibility
  5. Leave your credit card behind
  6. Track your expenditures
  7. Deactivate shopping apps
  8. Understand why you spend emotionally
  9. Deal with the underlying issue
  10. Seek help or get a mentor
  11. Focus on the bigger financial picture

Emotional spending has become one of the ways in which you cope with tough times or stress. Emotional spending also happens when you are in a good mood, like when you want to celebrate a win or achievement.

You should find a way to find solutions and avoid emotional spending.

I have put together a more detailed explanation of the tips and steps on how to stop emotional spending. Read them below.

11 Tips to Stop and Overcome Emotional Spending

Emotions and feelings have a way of influencing your spending habits. It is important to acknowledge the things that trigger your need to spend money.

Here are eleven tips and steps you can do to stop or overcome your emotional spending;

  1. Create a fun budget.

It is important to create a spending plan for your money. This will guide you on things and items you will purchase.

You will find it easy to avoid emotional spending if you have a budget.

It would be smart if you can create a ‘fun’ budget as well. This would be a budget that also includes things you enjoy. This way, you plan to buy items that improve your moods while sticking to your budget.

  1. Eat before you go shopping.

One of the easiest ways you can stop emotional spending is eating something before you go for shopping.

It is very common to buy food or meals when you go shopping hungry. The smell and sight of food will make you want to eat.

Having your cash or credit card with you makes purchasing something to eat very easy.

  1. Avoid impulse buying.

When you want to buy something or when you go to buy thing, you should avoid impulse buying.

Impulsive behavior is very common and can make you buy things emotionally. It happens when you buy an item that you do not need or had no plan of buying today.

  1. Take personal responsibility.

Knowing and understanding that you make emotional purchases is a step in the right direction.

It will help you take personal responsibility of your spending habits. This is good in helping you overcome emotional spending.

  1. Leave your credit card behind.

When you want to go out for a walk, a run or to run some errands, it would be a nice idea to leave your credit card behind.

This works when you have no plan or list of items you want to buy.

Not having money or the ability to access money will help you stop emotional spending.

  1. Track your expenditures.

In managing your personal finances, you should ensure you are tracking your expenses.

Knowing how much you spend on each item you buy over a period of time is important.

Analyzing such data and information will help you understand where your money goes. This is helpful in making you stop emotional purchases.

For example, you might notice that you buy a certain item every time you feel stressed. It is possible that you buy that bottle of wine you like every time you have won something at work.

  1. Deactivate shopping apps.

In today’s world of mobile convenience, you can buy anything from the comfort of your home. All you need is to log into your shopping app and buy.

This could be the reason why you spend emotionally. It makes it easy for you to buy unnecessary items whenever your feels or mood dictate so.

To step or avoid your emotional spending, you should consider deactivating the shopping apps on your phone.

  1. Understand why you spend emotionally.

While we have covered some steps to help you control your emotional spending, it is important to focus on why you spend.

There is always a reason why you spend emotionally. It is very critical that you get to the bottom of the reasons why you make emotional purchases.

You should take time to learn or understand what triggers your emotional spending habits.

  1. Deal with the underlying issue.

Once you have understood what causes your emotional spending, the next step is dealing with that underlying issue.

You might find that you are stressed or are anxious. It could be that you get overwhelmed by joy making you buy things in excitement.

It is very important to deal with the real cause of your emotional spending. This will help you manage your personal finances better, and provide you with a healthy financial life.

  1. Seek help or get a mentor.

In trying to learn how to stop emotional spending you might be required to find or seek financial help. This could be from a financial expert or from your mentor.

It is not bad to ask for help when you feel overwhelmed by your spending habits.

  1. Focus on the bigger financial picture.

This is another way in which you can control your emotional spending. You should focus and remind yourself of the financial goals you have set for yourself.

For example, knowing you want to buy your home or pay deposit for your house might help you stop emotional spending on new clothes.

You should write down your major financial goals and stick them at a place you will see them constantly.

Each time you are tempted to make an emotional purchase, you financial goals will help you overcome that urge.

Related: How to Build Your Financial Self Care


In conclusion, it is good to make it clear that there is nothing wrong with buying yourself something once in a while.

However, you should be careful not to fall into the emotional spending trap. Emotional spending can make you spend more than you need, become unable to pay your bills or fail to honor your credit card commitments.

This resource is aimed at providing you with tips and ideas on how to stop emotional spending.

It is important that you learn and understand your spending triggers. Getting on top of your triggers are key to helping you overcome emotional spending.

Learning how to stop emotional spending is an important skill.

While you might be unable to avoid emotional spending completely, the above ideas and steps will help you decrease the impact it can have on your personal finances.