Handle Emotional Spending in 5 Steps

Jan 12, 2018 | Budget | 0 comments

Budget your emotional spending

Do you ever have emotional spending? If so, how do you deal with emotional spending triggers? It’s already hard to stick to a budget. But then something simple as the smell of freshly brewed coffee can be enough to trigger me in spending $5 on a cafe mocha at Starbucks.

The main key here is to understand there will be days when you’ll get triggered to spend needlessly. This is why you have a budget! You do have one, don’t you?

That’s fantastic! However, after reading dozens of personal finance blog, I analyzed and extracted the best budget system for your specific situation, you’re confident your budget will work flawlessly.

Yet, despite all of your research, preparation and complex spreadsheet systems, you still can’t stay on budget. Does this sound familiar?

I’ve followed and ditched budgets my whole adult life. Sounds sad and frustrating, because it is. I absolutely find value in creating and following a budget, but the hard part is not the budget itself, but the will and determination to stick to it until a goal is achieved, and not let random triggers derail my progress.

Whatever your motivation for keeping a budget, whether it’s to pay off student loans, credit card debt, a mortgage, or just to save for a long vacation, having a budget with the right emotional mindset are key to achieve budgeting success.

emotional spending

Temptation is inevitable

I have to say, honestly, that I’m tempted on a regular basis to break my budget. I simply have too many things where I enjoy spending money. If you’re like me and spend a majority of income on food, I literally have stayed in the office, or at home, in order force myself to not spend cash.

I work indoors and enjoy leaving office during lunch and breaks. But this creates a dilemma for me because a few minutes away are two major malls and a Costco.

Just a quick trip to the mall, I could spend $50 on a clothing item, $15 of stuff for the house, and $10 for a Cinnabon and a Coke to go! If I do that two or three times a week, then I’m back to using credit cards for the month.

Since I’ve been sticking to my budget, I have a very clear picture of my spending habits. Knowing this has helped me in managing my temptations.

Here are a few things you can do to keep you on track when temptation comes to wreak havoc on your budget.


Be conscious of your spending

Going on a spending spree. Ever heard that saying before? Who hasn’t? When I buy things, not on my budget, it can sometimes snowball into more purchases.

I recently got two Echo Dots for Christmas. This is Amazon’s hands-free, voice-activated product that can turn on lights and order stuff for you online just with the command of your voice. It’s really an awesome product.

To fully utilize its capabilities, I needed to get Alexa compatible smart plugs and smart bulbs so that I can totally control the lights in my house. That’s an extra $175 worth of accessories that was not in my budget. It’s not going to break my budget, but I now have to reallocate my budget to accommodate for this unplanned expense.

So what do you do when this happens? First, recognize that this is normal and don’t consider yourself and your plans a failure because you didn’t “stick” to your budget. Next, ask yourself if this purchase is a need or want.

In my case, it’s definitely a want and not a necessity, but I feel like I’ve gotten a lot of value from it because my home lighting is now automated.


Look at your budget daily

First, I created my budget in Google sheets, so that I have access to it wherever I go. In the morning, I do a quick 5-10 minute review of how much I have left for discretionary expenses. Then, I look at each individual category to find out how much I’ve spent month-to-date.

And finally, I look at my calendar and determine if there’s anything I need to buy today and for the rest of the week. If so, I can quickly determine how much is left in my budget and plan my spending accordingly.

Looking at my budget on a daily basis keeps me on track. But, it also reinforces my goals and what I’m trying to accomplish. In my case, I want to eliminate all my credit card debt, save for a wedding, plan another trip to the Philippines and Thailand and to work on creating a viable side hustle to add to my income.

Looking at your budget daily can either be discouraging or exciting, depending on how you look at it. Either way, you’ll at least know where you stand on a daily and monthly basis, and you can make adjustments along the way when unexpected events or situations occur. Give this a try and I guarantee you’ll see a difference in your attitude and wallet.


Strive for progress not perfection

Just like people, budgets are not perfect. So don’t expect perfection when executing your master budget plan.

Strive, instead, for progress. I used to spend $3.67 for a slice of marble cake and a Mountain Dew three to four times a week. That’s over $750 a year! That’s extra money for retirement, a round trip ticket to the Philippines, half a Macbook Pro, two Apple Watches, or 80 decks of playing cards! (I study card magic in my spare time).

You get the point, right? What are some of the little purchases you make on a weekly basis that can add up to big money in a few months or a year?

Small purchases added up over a long period of time can mean big savings you can use for something you really need. Once you’re aware of these miscellaneous purchase, make the effort to reduce or eliminate them from your life.

Once I saw where my money was going, I stopped my Mountain Dew/Marble cake snack for good, and replaced it with a PB&J sandwich I made at home. That’s a two-thirds savings just by making a small adjustment in my spending.

By focusing on progress, it allows you to be flexible in your choices of where to budget your money. My monthly gas budget isn’t always $200. Sometimes it’s $175 or $150.

It also gives you the freedom to make adjustments along the way and eventually you will pave a beautiful path to your goals.

So when you feel the urge to burn through your budget, use some of all of these tips the next time you’re tempted to spend emotionally.


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