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Some say money is just transactional, but I couldn’t disagree more. Money has some serious emotions tied to it, and the way we feel can have a direct and indirect impact on the way we spend and our overall sense of financial wellbeing.
In this episode (and my first solo episode!) I gabber on about some of the different aspects of emotional spending, destigmatise spending to feel better, and offer some actionable tips on how to take control of your emotional spending.
We also hear from some listeners and followers about their emotional spending experience, and hone the importance of identifying an unhealthy spend from a perfectly healthy one.
Mentioned in this episode:
- Managing Money While Living With Bipolar Disorder https://thebrokegeneration.com/blog/2020/09/04/bipolar-disorder-managing-money-mental-health/
- Sign up to my weekly feel good finance newsletter www.thebrokegeneration.com/subscribe, where you’ll also nab access to my free 7 daily tasks to set up a budget.
Where to find me:
Disclaimer: Information contained in this podcast is general in nature and should not be considered financial advice, nor used to make a financial or investment decision. Please seek professional advice for information tailored to your own circumstances.
You are listening to the broke generation podcast, the podcast that helps you feel better about money so you can be better with money. My name is Emma, and I’m your host. Not so long ago, I was a bit of a hot money mess. But now through getting to know myself and my relationship with money on a deeper level, I’ve managed to turn my finances around, and I want to help you do the same thing. This podcast will become your number one place for finance that makes you feel good by bringing you new insights into managing money in your 20s and 30s. And breaking down the financial lifestyle and career barriers that face our generation every day. Thanks for listening and enjoy the show.
Before we jump into today’s episode, I hope that you will join me in acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which I am recording and you are listening to this podcast today. Always was always will be Aboriginal land. Hello, everybody. And welcome to the very first episode of regeneration podcast. It’s finally here. I’m pretty nervous. I’ve never been more familiar with my own voice before. And I’m also sending out a massive kudos to anybody who does solo episodes on a podcast on a regular basis, I really wanted to kick off with a solo episode. And I do want the podcast to be a mix of conversations with other people and solo episodes. But they are really quite difficult to sort of plan out enough to stay on track. But without wanting to sound scripted, wanting to sort of tap into what comes into your mind in the moment, but still sort of actually follow some kind of structures or there is an element of cohesion for the listener. Seriously, kudos to anybody that does this Sophie Cliff from practical positivity, I’m looking at you your podcast is so low most of the time. And it’s amazing, and I don’t know how you do it. But thanks so much for tuning in to this first episode. I’m very excited to have you here. I’m really, really grateful that you have tuned in and allowing me into your earholes. Today. What I want to kick off with for this first episode is the topic of emotional spending, it seemed like a really fitting one to kick off this podcast, because it’s been something that’s played a really huge role in my financial journey. And it’s something that you guys really relate to as well. So I think that digging into it on a bit of a deep dive level is going to be really helpful.
So to start with, let’s talk about what I mean really, when I say emotional spending. So to me, emotional spending is a bit of a double edged sword, I guess you could say. So on the one side, you’re shopping, or you’re spending because you feel a certain emotion, and just the simple act of spending money in some way, is going to give you the hit that you’re seeking the hit of dopamine. The other side is that you’re looking for an emotion that you believe lies on the other end of a specific item. So it might be buying a dress, because you want to look super hot to piss off that guy that didn’t call you back, for example. Whereas on the original example, on the first side, you’re shopping, because you’re burnt out tired had a bad day, it doesn’t really matter what you buy, but you’re just spending to feel better. So you see that sort of they’re quite nuanced. And there is a subtle difference, but they both sort of behave in a similar way. And they both sort of run the risk of impacting our finances in the same way. Now what makes it difficult to sort of acknowledge and tackle emotional spending and sort of kick it to the curb, is understanding what those emotions are. And when the triggers are internal and external and which side of that sort of two sided coin, you’re sort of playing in most often, it might be a complete balance of both, or you might sort of skew one side to the other. What makes it even harder is the fact that our emotions around ourselves and our lives and how money fits into that. And what was the purpose of money in our lives is has been really capitalised on by modern marketing and advertising. And we’re now probed with marketing messages that speak directly to our worst emotions, and try and get us to spend and that kind of really sucks and it really makes it much harder. I’ve talked before.
A few years ago, actually I did a radio interview my first ever radio interview and it was terrifying. But I talked about a theory that I’d read called ape theory by a behavioural economist. I can’t remember his name, but it’s sort of the idea that we’re poked very often with sort of all these marketing messages and impulses and temptations to spend and our internal ape is sort of what prompts us to act on that. And we’re sort of we’re poked so much more than we would have been even 10 years ago with social media, and all that kind of thing. We sort of see things that tempt us so much more than ever before. And that makes emotional spending really quite complex. Now first of all, I do just want to address that this is absolutely a judgement free zone. Pretty You know that about me by now. But emotional spending is not something that I’m ever going to judge you for. It shouldn’t be shameful. And to be honest, I don’t even think it’s our fault most of the time. Because of all those marketing messages and sort of fast fashion and mass production and consumerism, I really think it’s quite difficult to not experience emotional spending at some point in your life. And no matter whether you are 22, or 52, whether you’re experiencing it now, or you’re getting over it, absolutely zero judgement from me. Even though I’ve arranged my own emotional spending in substantially, I still battle with it all the time, because it’s just everywhere. We’re meant to the world wants us to capitalism wants us to do so let’s sort of dig into why we need to address emotional spending, what are the impacts of emotional spending, I think there are two major problems with emotional spending. Firstly, is the more tangible problem in that it directly reduces the amount of money you have other things in life like travel, buying a home, starting a family or just sort of more broadly spending on things that you enjoy. If you’re spending all your money on emotional purchases that don’t make you happy, there’s going to be less left over for sort of long term financial confidence.
The second thing is that over time, emotional spending can compound to kind of result in a negative perception of what your money can actually do for you, and what your money is actually for. So for example, if you consistently fall victim to emotional spending, and you dish out all your money on things that don’t really bring you happiness beyond sort of feeling cute in a changing room for five minutes, you can start to feel quite resentful and start and just kind of a bit of a loss with what to do with your finances. And sort of noticing when this is happening, and when you might be starting to feel this way, can actually provide answers to a number of things that you might be confused about with your money.
So for example, if you’re always wondering why you never feel like you have any money left to enjoy yourself, or you see other people going out enjoying themselves no thinking, where are they getting this money, they aren’t the same as me, it might be because it’s getting gobbled up by emotionally driven purchases, and you’re actually feeling like you’re not getting any mileage out of the money that you’re working really hard for. And that in itself really highlights the knock on effect that comes from a negative emotional spend, and a more positive thought through spend that really aligns with who you are and your values. For example, if you sort of again, go back to the dress example, if you buy that dress that you want to wear to the party to piss off that guy that didn’t call you back. That’s one thing. And you might feel like super hot and super confident for five seconds. And then afterwards, you’re sort of thinking God, I really wish I hadn’t spend that $100, I really could use that and something else. compared to if you purchase a dress for $100 that you’ve thought through, you’ve looked at it for ages that goes with everything in your wardrobe, it’s transeasonal, you feel amazing in it, it’s well made, you’re gonna feel completely different about what your money can do for you, after those two on paper, very similar purchases. And that’s kind of the real value of looking at emotional spending, because it requires quite a deeper dive because it’s not something that really your bank statement will tell you, I’m hugely in favour of reviewing the bank statements regularly, but actually sort of looking beyond the numbers and looking at the reasons behind each of those transactions. Because that $100 dress was two very different scenarios, and has two very different knock on impacts on how you feel about money. And that is kind of the real key.
So some ways that I’ve emotionally spent, you might relate to some of these, I often buy clothes when my self esteem is very low, whether that’s sort of my self esteem in terms of you know, how it can be how good I am at my job, or sort of my more literal body image. buying clothes is sort of a way that I I often find myself trying to do a little bit of a rebrand when my self confidence is down. Because I kind of feel like if I go and buy like a dress that makes me feel like a bad bitch I can take on the world. And don’t get me wrong. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing that. But again, it comes back to that comparison between two very similar transactions. If I think that dress is going to make me feel like a bad bitch, because I’ve been looking at it for ages and I’ve tried it on and it fits me perfectly. That’s very different sort of thinking, that’s nice. I’ll get that because I’m going to get hit of dopamine from the transaction. And it doesn’t actually make you feel like a bad bitch because it rides up when you walk and shows you bump. Do you know what I mean? The difference. Otherwise, I’ve emotionally spent sort of by thinking that I deserve it because I’ve done x, y and Zed. And again nothing wrong with rewarding yourself when you’re doing that on a regular basis and almost sort of looking around for evidence that you deserve it. It’s sort of a bit chicken and egg you know the wrong things coming first. And my absolute number one is probably well my number two after self esteem is because I’ve had a bad day. My brain places a lot of weight on how much better you can feel by spending money after a bad day. And that can be anything from Uber Eats to clothes. I’ve actually got an orange jumpsuit, bright orange jumpsuit, that I remember buying because it had a bad day. And I remember I used to go through a shopping centre on my way home. And I was on the tram to the shop centre where I changed to get the other train. Yeah, I remember thinking, I’m just gonna buy something, I’ve had such a bad day, I’m just gonna buy something and I can because I’ve had a bad day. And it’s that sort of like, yeah, I can because I’m going to take control and I’m going to feel better and buying this will make me feel better. And this is how I can gain back some control. And that is sort of like major emotional spending one on one for me, I wore the jumpsuit twice, I think, and it didn’t fit me all that well. And I was really self conscious in it. But I just bought it on a complete impulse and big mistake, big example of emotional spending. So I did some research into sort of the psychological, psychological experts opinion of emotional spending. And what came up a lot was that there are four major emotions that are really related to money and spending. And they are fear, guilt, shame and envy. And I think just sort of sitting with those words can actually bring up a lot of a lot of examples of times when you’ve emotionally spent and you can probably attribute those four major emotions to a number of those. And V is a really big one, I definitely, particularly when I was younger, I used to buy things that were either the same as somebody else, or to copy somebody else, it sort of went back to low self esteem, but there was definitely envy there because I sort of thought that they were more worthy than me. And if I bought the same outfit that they’ve got, then maybe I can be as good as or as worthy as them. And it’s just really sad to think that I gave up money that could have been for my true happiness on trying to copy somebody else.
From those emotions, I sort of flipped it to look at the outcomes that perhaps we’re looking to get when we purchase things to sort of come back to that two sided coin of the emotion coming first and the emotion coming after the transaction. So I think there are probably four spending to feel better in some capacity spending to avoid action. So that might be something like buying gym memberships and gym equipment. And I’ve done this so many times gone and bought new activewear because that means I’ll work out. Often we use spending as a way to sort of procrastinate further, because we think that if we put money behind something, it means that we’re more likely to do it, which in my experience is not spending to feel anything, I’ve definitely experienced this having just sort of been navigating an extended period of burnout, spending just to feel anything sort of when you get when you can feel sort of some excitement, when you haven’t really felt any kind of zest for life in a really long time. buying things and spending money can feel good. And it feels nice to just feel like you have some element of control of your happiness temporarily. That’s a really big one. And spending because you feel stuck. And there’s no sort of hope for you. Anyway, this was a really big one for me, when I had credit card debt, I would sort of sit down and really want to take control of my money. And I’d sort of think, right, I’m gonna pay off my credit card this year. And I’d be like, yep, I’m going to do it, because I sort of I’d have these days, right, suddenly, it would strike me down or sort of like immediate panic and anxiety over the fact that my credit card debt meant that I was in negatives. And it sounds really obvious. But I think that if anyone else that’s got or had credit card debt can relate to this. But at one point, I had about eight or $10,000 of credit card debt. And I’d started to want to start saving, and I started to actually manage to save some money.
But I suddenly in the middle of the day out of completely nowhere it gets struck by this anxiety of sort of thinking like that $2,000 in my bank account that I’ve been feeling really confident about for the last week and a half, actually is not is worth nothing, because I’ve got credit card debt. And that in itself, you’d think would sort of make me want to, you know, not spend money and, and try and change that. But when you’re staring up that mountain of credit card debt, and how far you’ve got to go, especially when you’re not earning a whole lot i was i was on sort of like $40,000 at this point, which is sort of only marginally more than minimum wage, and I just knew that it was going to take me so long, it would actually make me just think you know what, I’m going to buy this $30 fast fashion top, because there’s no point anyway, I’m never going to get there, I might as well just have this because what’s $30 when you’ve got 10 grand of debt, and that was a really big one for me. So you might relate to that in terms of looking at those outcomes that we’re looking for. But speaking of relating, I want to take a break to hear from some of you guys about your experiences with emotional spending.
There’s that age old saying that a problem shared is a problem halved. And I think that this is kind of why I share a lot of my own experiences. I think that sort of hearing that you’re not the only one that does it a bit like mean cultures and makes you feel not alone. And I think that’s a really important thing about feeling better about money is feeling that you’re not alone. So I’ve shared some of my experiences and we’re going to hear from some of you guys now about how you have grappled with emotional spending in the past. Thank you to anybody that did share their voice note, I’m really appreciative and they will always remain anonymous, of course. Okay, let’s get into some of your Emotional span Heights is a bit of a weird word. But I broke up with someone about I think two years ago and I was super upset. And I was like, You know what? I need to feel empowered. So I ordered like, I think $200 vibrator of little really make me feel pretty fucking good. Yeah. Yes.
This is the kind of emotional spending I can get on board with. I think this is completely justified. And leaning into those emotions is something we should all be doing. This same person did actually send another one as well.
The other monthly emotional spend is when I’m on my period and feeling crap, I always ordered food or clothes or something skincare that makes me feel better. But I always just end up regretting it because I’m in pain and doesn’t really help.
I think that’s a really interesting one as well. Who else by show of hands even though I can’t see you buy stuff on there, period. I definitely do this and my periods aren’t even that bad, like, comparably. I’m really lucky with my periods. So I have like one really painful day. And the rest of the time. It’s not too bad. I get moody beforehand, but it’s it’s such a tangible type of moody that I know exactly when it’s my period, like certain things will get on my nerves. And I’m like, Oh, I must be getting my period because you’re never this annoying when my boyfriend like dares to breathe anywhere near me. But yeah, I think I definitely do buy stuff on my period. Not because I actually necessarily feel that bad, but because I’m using it as an excuse. Okay, next emotional spend coming into your ears. Now,
my emotional span is always new clothes or new outfit whenever my weight is fluctuating. And now that makes me feel better, or you know, more confident, but it definitely happens a lot that it’s becoming both a problem financially and in wardrobe space. Okay, wow,
this could be me. I think COVID has done this to us. This is just one of the dirties that COVID has done right. Basically, I’ve never had such a range of clothing sizes in my possession, as I’ve had this year. And I think what’s hard about this one, all the time, but especially, especially with COVID, kind of and lockdown, especially if you’re in a state or a country where you’ve been in lockdown for a really long time. The buying clothes thing when your weights fluctuating and you’re feeling you know, some kind of way about that, even when it’s like a super positive feeling of feeling amazing because you’re toned up or whatever the financial impact of having to buy clothes in a different size is ridiculous. And there’s such an emotional kind of caveat to it all as well, because I’m somebody who’s less since I’ve been around on Instagram. But prior to that, I kind of went into a couple of years of really quite obsessive dieting and exercising, that was you know, majorly linked to mental health. But yeah, I kind of fluctuated 30 kilos, up and down twice, now all the way up all the way down. Although if I go up again, all the way back down. I’m currently at the top. And it means that I’ve just gone through so many items of clothing because when you are gaining or losing weight at that rate, for whatever reason, positive, negative, whatever that might be, you have to buy new clothes because your jeans physically won’t go on or they won’t stay up. And that’s been a huge chore upper of my money and the logistical side and the emotional side is really difficult to deal with. So 100% can relate. Let’s hear from our next emotional spender.
I am an emotional spender any feeling I have I will purchase something because of it. Just this week actually. I saw a jacket online, beautiful loved it didn’t buy it. Next day. I’m waiting for a message reply from a boy ill and at the same time that he replied to me, I got an email saying that the jacket was on sale. So first opened his message. And then because it didn’t make me feel very good for a jacket immediately, and I’m actually waiting for the jacket to arrive. I was posted today we shall see. Let’s hope it doesn’t disappoint me like the boy did.
Okay, so this theme is emerging not only demand messages around ghost ask Gaslight us turns out they’re actually the trigger for a lot of our emotional spending. Now I’m not going to say I’m surprised by this 100% I’ve been in a situation as well. And I think what’s really interesting is this person saw the jacket online and thought I’m not going to get it for whatever reason we didn’t go into that. But then in swoops a guy with his bullshit apparently was wearing on the podcast. And that’s enough to tip us over the edge. And I think that that’s just really, really unfair. Because all the intentions were there, all the ground was laid and then just one kick to your emotions. And we turn to spending I mean absolutely no judgement. Like I said, I’ve won 100% been there. But I think it really highlights just how sort of easily we have been trained by, you know, marketing advertising, life in general modern consumerism, to turn to spending to feel better. I mean, obviously, that email that said that the jacket was on sale, they weren’t in cahoots with the guy. But that’s kind of what email marketing is hoping to do. It’s thought, right, you haven’t bought this, or try you another day. And I think when you think about it like that, I mean, it’s gutting. And it’s horrible to think that that’s the world we live in. But also, I think it’s quite kind of vindicating, because I don’t know about you. But I’ve definitely kind of beat myself up being like, why did I do that? Why did I buy that when I got that text message. But it’s designed that way like that we’re tripped up to do that. And so it’s not actually your fault at all. We just fed all these solutions to our problems and solutions to our problems. They’re really temporary. But yeah, I don’t know if anybody else has been in that situation I 100% have and I hope that hearing from these fantastic women that have shared their experiences, makes you feel in some way less alone. And a little bit more eyes open to the traps that are kind of set up for us and the places that we are told to turn to when we get mean texts from mean boys. Okay, guys, we have one more story to listen to. And this one’s a positive one. So yay, for that.
That’s good. Emotional purchase was a Louis Vuitton key pouch, I’ve been thinking about it for months and months and months, I was having a ship time. And I finally went, fuck it, there are clearly bigger decisions and bigger things going on in my life, the amount of money I’m going to spend on the ski pouch, so I bought it. And it was brilliant. I use it every single day, it makes me really happy. I think it’s the best little wallet alternative ever. And I don’t regret it at all. I do think though, that I probably make emotional, tiny purchases much more often. And I don’t even recognise that they are emotional purchases. So this is one success among probably many.
Okay, this is a good one, I can see why this person submitted this one as an emotional spend because the purchase was made when she was feeling crap about something else kind of going on in life and kind of decided to go for it. I think this kind of highlights that even though while the same action might have been true, it’s not always a bad thing to do that she did say that she’d been looking at this item for a really long time. And so I think that if you do buy it, even though you are leaning into an emotion, if you do buy something that you’ve been looking at, for a really long time, in bad times, or in good times, so to sort of console yourself or to reward yourself for something. So let’s say you’ve been looking at a bag and you’ve got promoted, I don’t think there’s anything wrong at all with kind of going okay, now I can get that because it’s something that you’ve been considering for a long period of time, and it’s been in your consideration set for longer than you’ve had the emotion for. And I think that’s a really important distinction to make. And I definitely risk coming across as like you can never spend when you’re emotional or but when you’re feeling a certain kind of emotion because we’re always feeling emotions all the time. And spending in line with those emotions is sometimes a really good thing as this person has very well articulated. So I think this is a really good reminder to keep at the back of your mind this story, that that’s emotional spending done, right, because you might be spending because of the emotion. But the thing that you’re purchasing is not something that’s been a fleeting, a fleeting guest in your thoughts, shall we say? Thank you so very much. If you were one of my four voice note guests today, I really appreciate it really appreciate your input. And I really hope that everybody listening has enjoyed hearing from somebody other than me blabbering on because that’s always a nice welcome break. Let’s dive back into the episode and unpack a little bit more about emotional spending.
Now, before I get back on to sort of a bit more commentary around emotional spending, and some more practical tips on sort of ways to start tackling it in your life, I do want to touch on the important aspect of this which is sort of serious, medically diagnosed mental health conditions. Now, while a number of these behaviours that we’ve talked about sort of avoidance and you know, wanting to feel better and wanting to feel like we’re taking action, a lot of these things are sort of natural elements of human behaviour. But if you experience other mental health conditions, for example, depression, bipolar disorder and sort of other neuro diversities, they could be making overcoming this substantially harder for you and in some cases, even impossible. A number of those conditions and other associated conditions can really impact and elevate Spending compulsion and avoidance and shame. And that’s absolutely not to trivialise. And I’m not wanting this to sort of come across as overly simplified commentary around emotional spending, I know that in a number of cases, it is almost completely out of your control, and that it’s something that needs to be worked on with a medical professional, if that’s something that’s accessible to you, or a financial counsellor or something like that. But just sort of, I want to touch on on a really sort of top line level, my own experience with with anxiety and depression might have been very related to work, I’ve sort of found myself very unable to face the thought of work, I become almost afraid of work and I very physically manifesting panic and fear when anything was added to my plate in terms of work, am I in business and that kind of thing. And so I can absolutely see how, if finances are something that you were looking at tackling at that point, when you’re experiencing those things, that that sort of same difficulty with facing up to things could come into it for you. Absolutely. Now, a friend of mine was recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder. And last year, she shared with me some of her experiences in a blog post, which I will link in the show notes. And it’s our experience with how her diagnosis of bipolar disorder has actually answered a lot of questions and given a lot of reason behind a number of ways that she is with money. And I’m just going to read a short excerpt of the article, which speaks to the links between manic periods of bipolar disorder and finances, just to sort of round out the importance of distinguishing natural elements of human behaviour in terms of procrastination and shame and avoidance. And the difference between that and medically diagnosed conditions. We’ve used the name Kate, it’s not her real name has been changed for privacy. But Kate says, If I’m experiencing a manic period, I find that I can be quite erratic with my spending. And I often purchase things that I absolutely don’t need just for the sake of it, I’ll sometimes look at my bank account and be shocked because I have no idea how I spend so much money, and I will sometimes have puzzles arriving every single day, I just buy things without thinking and without considering any financial implications. One symptom of mania is getting big grand ideas. And in the past, this has ended with me spending a lot of money on really unnecessary items, once I spent $500, on jewellery making supplies to start a side business, but it ended up stopping that activity shortly after which left me out of pocket. I’ve also booked overseas trips that I couldn’t afford or expensive electronics and spent so much money on clothes I didn’t need. I will link that in the show notes. If you’d like to have a read, it’s a really powerful piece. And I’m really grateful to her for sharing her experiences with us. And it really does highlight the importance of getting proper medical help if you think that your compulsive spending goes a little bit beyond the norms of human behaviour. So getting back into a few more sort of patterns of emotional spending, there are something called the shame avoidance cycle that I think a number of us will relate to. So what that is, is it’s a cycle of behaviour where you feel shameful about something which might be a purchase, or it might be ignoring your finances. Or it might just be sort of way or out financially in general, as a result, you avoid dealing with it. And that brings on a whole new level of shame. And because that brings on new shame, you go around the cycle again, you feel more shameful, you avoid it again, and so on and so on. The reason this becomes a cycle is the original avoidance alleviates anxiety temporarily, but eventually compounds into more severe anxieties around it and you end up stuck in this shame avoidance cycle. Over time getting stuck in this shame avoidance cycle can result in really long term financial anxiety because the negative emotions that you associate with money build up and they can form an overall sort of almost fear of your finances. A bit like I said before about my experiences of fearing work and fearing tasks coming onto my plate. Over time this can happen when you continually get stuck in the shame avoidance cycle. So what does that look like in a real world context, it can be things like being scared to check your bank account after you’ve been shopping. Because the few times that you have done that, you know, you’ve spent more than you thought or you’ve gone into negatives or going to overdraft or into debt. And that comes with a really hold you back from ever checking your bank account. Because every time you do, it’s so much worse than you thought. This can mean that you maybe Miss bills, or you don’t even go in there to pay bills because you don’t want to see the reality of what’s in there. And then you get served a notice to remind you about that bill. And that can lead to sort of being afraid to open emails or letters and overtime that can sort of really put you in a bad place emotionally and physically. So for example, you might not want to organise your bills and make everything so much easier because every time you deal with bills, you have to deal with your bank account, which has left you in a really sort of negative headspace or you might not want to set a budget because last time you did it felt like there was such a huge mountain to climb and you ended up avoiding it because you felt so shameful of how far you had to go. So you really can see how with time these negative emotional connections to money can really compound into something that’s a much bigger problem than just that dress that you purchased. But I think that our brains because of the shame avoidance cycle can get us stuck in that, oh, it’s just one thing, or it’s just one more time. And something that I’ve really found with the spending cycle is that, the more often I get that hit from the transaction, the sooner I want it again. So it’s just like any other addiction, really, if you’re trying not to drink alcohol, because you’re addicted to alcohol, you need to create distance between you and your last drink. Because if you have a drink, you’re just going to want to have another one and another one and another one. It’s the same with sugar. If you’re trying not to have sugar, if you do, give yourself that hit of sugar, your body craves it again, much sooner than if it had been a week 234 or five weeks since your last sugar hit. So let’s get into some practical advice. How can we break this spending cycle? And how can we stop spending money on things that we don’t really want and sacrificing our positive relationship with money and our financial progress at the same time now for me, it comes down to two things, identifying your triggers, and then it putting obstacles in place to distance yourself from the hit. So your triggers might be either side of that two sided coin we talked about at the beginning, that might be an emotion that you feel that leads you to spend or an emotion you are trying to achieve by spending or acquiring something. So in order to identify these, we first need to take action awareness is the very, very first stage of tackling this. And the thing is, this still comes back to the shame avoidance cycle, we don’t want to take action. And we don’t want to look at what our triggers are. Because we then end up feeling shameful, and avoid it. However, in the same way that that avoidance alleviates anxiety, albeit temporarily, action can actually alleviate the anxiety, much longer term. So the trick is when you are facing it, and you are going to stop avoiding for a second, go in with an outcome focused approach. So don’t just say I’m going to face my bank account, because chances are, you’ll look at your bank account and be like,
Where’s all my money, and then you avoid, but instead of saying, I’m just gonna look at my bank account, instead, say, I’m going to look at my bank account, I’m going to set a plan to pay that bill or I’m going to set a plan to pay back my debt, or set a plan to organise my savings or whatever that might be, or I’m going to look at my bank account and work out how much I can spend this week. So go in intending to come out with a positive outcome.
Now there is that saying that the Devil You Know is better than the devil you don’t. And it’s actually one of my favourite sayings. So remember that knowing something is bad reduces the likelihood of it getting worse, whereas ignoring whether something is bad or not, is almost a surefire way to make it worse. So to give you a non financial example, just to sort of communicate that in a slightly different way that that makes it a little bit clearer. I have a terrible fear of breast cancer, because unfortunately, two people that I know work very, very, very unlucky and were diagnosed with it when they were 24 or 25. So it’s something that sort of, obviously, nobody isn’t scared of it. But I’m quite at times debilitating Lee scared of it. It’s a big anxiety trigger for me. And recently, I scheduled a breast scan that I needed to have, and I almost cancelled it because I didn’t want to face it so close to my birthday. And I thought, oh, what if what if there’s something there, I don’t want to spend my 30th worrying like I’ll just reschedule it for after my birthday. But what I did was tell myself that the act of going was really the only possible positive outcome. Because if God forbid, there was something there on that scan, thankfully there wasn’t, if there was not going would be worse than facing it. Because the longer I didn’t go, the longer it could be growing, the longer I wouldn’t know about it. And I’d always wish that I had gone. So shifting that mindset really made me feel like I was actually in control, and I was doing the absolute best I could to get a positive outcome. So the same thing applies to not avoiding your money while avoiding it might be scary, if you go in knowing that doing it is actually going to put you in the best possible position given where you’re currently at. Because nothing can get worse. If you take control and know about it, then you can actually feel like it’s a much more positive experience. So once you have sort of taken action to that awareness, you can start putting in place those obstacles to distance yourself from that. So it might be a physical obstacle, or it might be a mindset obstacle, or it might sort of be a time based obstacle. But for example, some of my triggers, like I said, were feeling bad about my body feeling like I’ve had a bad day or that I’ve earned it or they just need to sort of feel anything when I’m experiencing sort of bad bouts of mental health. So for me, what I really needed to do was stop that impulse spending that I think is going to make me feel better about my body. And so what I would do instead is I will put a time base obstacle in. So for example, I have to wait a week or 48 hours or whatever, before I can purchase something, especially if I’m feeling that way, I now actually, very, very rarely will buy anything. unless I’ve seen it before, I’ll very rarely pick something up, that is something I’ve just come across. And that’s been really helpful for me, because what that does is it takes the purchase decision out of the heightened emotional state. So if I’m looking online after a bad day, or in a shop after, you know, I’ve felt really chunky this morning, because my jeans from before lockdown didn’t fit. making a purchase decision while in that state is never going to end well, for me, and probably for you, too. Whereas deferring the purchase decision to when you’re in a better state of mind allows you to be a lot more rational allows you to actually factor in whether you can afford it, whether it’s aligned with your goals right now. And whether you actually really want it now that you’re not there. Another similar one to this is to make it harder to obtain the item. So for example, if you’re looking at something online, say to yourself, I can’t buy it online, but if I go to the store, I can get it. And suddenly, you’ve got to sort of think about public transport, I think about parking, and you’ve got to put your shoes on or brush your hair. And it kind of raises the stakes a little bit and sort of makes you have to work a little bit harder for it. And chances are you kind of can’t be bothered. And definitely that requires discipline. Absolutely. You know, it’s not as easy as going, I’m now a person that doesn’t buy anything that they haven’t seen before. Like it absolutely takes discipline, and it’s hard. But again, like I said, the more often you do that. And the more time it’s been since you’ve made an impulse purchase. And since you’ve allowed yourself to get that hit from emotional spending, the less likely it is that it’s going to come up as a solution to the anxieties or the feelings or the emotions that you might feel. So if we’re going to feel all these emotions around money, which don’t get me wrong, We absolutely do. Even if we’re not emotionally spending money is always emotional, you need to get some sort of element of distance, but you’re still always going to be emotionally connected to your money because you work every day for it. And it’s your element of control and your element of freedom. So it’s always going to be emotional. And if we’re going to feel these emotions about finances, we might as well use them for good. So instead of channelling them into spending and parting with our money on things that don’t actually make us happy, we can sort of channel them into goals and progress as well, however small that may be. So using your emotional connection with money to reinforce a positive relationship with your finances is possible. And the key to doing that is setting micro goals or milestones. And bearing those in mind when that shame and anxiety and that sort of desire to lean into those triggers really rises to the surface. So if I feel myself feeling unattractive, or like I want to go and buy clothes to solve my self esteem issues, instead of just single mindedly focusing on how I think that that blazer is going to make me feel, I’ll also think about a goal that I might have set a financial goal than I might have said, or even if you don’t have goals, just think about your savings balance. And just think about that money leaving your account and just think, what am I giving up to have this? Am I giving up an experience with friends? Am I giving up getting an amazing dress for my birthday instead? What are you giving up in exchange for this thing, that you’re placing so much weight on improving your life, and it can sort of give you a bit of perspective in the moment as well. And the second thing is actually to align your money with positive emotions and actively find ways to use your money to enable yourself to be happy. So the solution to this isn’t not spending at all it’s spending on things that truly bring you happiness, and trying to get rid of all the things that don’t because like I said that negative relationship with money can compound when you’re feeling like all your money does is leaving with a bunch of stuff that you never really wanted. If instead you’re using your money to really enjoy your life. And here for me, I absolutely love wine. I love it. I like try new ones. I like occasionally buying a really nice bottle of wine and sort of reading the tasting notes and all that stuff. And allowing myself to do that it actually allows me to feel like my hard work is paying off because I’m using my money to buy something that I really want and that just feels infinitely better than sort of sitting around package after package of fast fashion that I never really wanted and looked way better in the photo than it did when it came into contact with my cellulite. Do you know what I mean? So the key is not to not spending the key is to finding things however small it can be a coffee, it can be a pack of gum, it can be a $1 ice cream from McDonald’s. Whatever you want something that really like lights you up, it can be going out to get hot chocolate on a cold winter’s night. Anything that makes you feel really happy and really kind of lean into that happiness that you get from that. urges and really compare it to the difference you feel when you come home with a fast fashion dress that clings a little bit. It’s so poorly made and so cheap that you can’t even be bothered posting it back because it just isn’t worth your time. really sort of highlight the difference between those things and start to see money as a vehicle that can bring you happiness rather than just a vehicle that can alleviate anxiety, because you are worth so much more than that. And you deserve to enjoy your money and not just sort of fall victim to these marketing messages that tell you that you need a new outfit for every occasion or the skinny jeans out baggy jeans are in and you’re worth so much more than that and you deserve to be in control of your money. That is it for my very first solo episode on emotional spending. I hope that you have found it helpful a helpful conversation to have in your ears today. I hope that you relate and I hope that you’ve maybe taken something however small from this that might help you feel a little bit more confident with your spending and with managing your money and just a little bit less alone. That is kind of Isaiah want this to be the feel good finance podcast and I was a bit worried about talking about such kind of heavy or negative things. I’m thinking God is this feel good, but I hope that it is because I think that normalising it talking about it and just reminding you that it is possible to change the way that you spend and that awareness is power and knowledge is power. And that you can do it and that you are worth it. I really appreciate you tuning into my first episode if you enjoyed please let me know if you have any feedback. Absolutely welcome that you can email me at podcast at bro generation.com or slide into my DMS I would love to hear from you and I will see you next time. Thank you so much. Bye
Transcribed by https://otter.ai