How to Stop Spending Money to Feel Better
Are you an emotional spender? You’re relationship ended, or you had some other bad news. When you can no longer stand feeling bored or sad anymore, you decide to head to the nearest store “just to get out of the house and do some window shopping.” Three hours and $200 later, you arrive home with your new treasures. You’re feeling great until you walk out to grab your last bag and see a big puddle of green fluid running under your car. AND you just spend your last $200 on your shopping spree. It’s incidents like this that make it painfully clear–You need to learn how to stop spending money to feel better.
Suddenly your mood has dropped from euphoria back down to the pit of despair and panic. You have your car towed to the shop. How you will pay to get your car fixed?? The only choice now is to break out the plastic, right?
The repair shop calls back…. $800 to replace the leaking radiator. UGGGH!! Now you’ve just increased your credit card payment(which is almost maxed out btw) by about $40 every month.
You can see where this is going right?? I know exactly how you feel, because I’ve found myself in this very situation over and over again for years. Here’s how I learned to stop spending money to feel better.
Discover Your Why
The first step in learning how to stop spending money when you’re depressed is to figure out WHY you do it. What are the emotional triggers for you? If you don’t figure this out now, you’ll keep coming back to this coping mechanism and get further and further in debt.
Realize that the gratification you get from buying new stuff is VERY short-lived. You’ll eventually sink back into an even deeper depression when you realize you’ve only added to your money problems.
Depression or feeling down is not something that can be cured by the next shiny new thing.
Get Help If Needed
If your depression is severe, you should consider talking to a professional counselor. They can help you get back on track mentally, so that you can work on your finances with a clear mind.
If you’re just feeling down due to a temporary setback, learn some new ways to manage your emotions. Practice some self care that doesn’t involve spending money.
Go for morning or evening walks. Learn a new inexpensive hobby. Read a self improvement book or just a book for entertainment. Get out in nature.
Create a Budget
The next step after you understand why you spend money is to then understand how much you have and where it’s going.
List ALL of your expenses, including dining out and your daily coffees. You’d be surprised how fast $2-$3 a day adds up.
Don’t forget the yearly expenses like taxes, gifts, and vehicle registration as well.
Take those number and divide by 12 to get the monthly amounts. It’s easier to budget these expenses in every month, rather than having to come up with a lump sum at the end of the year.
Set Realistic Financial Goals
Once you see where your budget is at, set some short term and long term financial goals. Write them down and place them somewhere you can easily see to remind yourself of your goals when you’re having a weak moment.
See if there’s anywhere you can cut or reduce your expenses. We were able to trim almost $300 a month by cutting our TV bills, switching to a prepaid phone plan, and doing simple car maintenance and repairs at home. We are still working on reducing the number of nights we go out to eat.
That’s a tough one for me because I feel like that’s one of the rare moments my fiance and I can really focus on each other. When we stay home, either one of our kids is there, or we just end up zoning out on the TV. I guess you could say going out to dinners or happy hours is my “emotional spending” habit.
I’m determined to focus on the bigger goals we have, so we’ll be cutting our nights out down to once a week at least.
Stop Trying to Keep Up with the Jones’s
Stop spending money to feel better about yourself! What I mean here is stop trying to keep up with your friends, family, neighbors, whoever by outspending them. That’s a very dangerous game to play, especially if you don’t have a particularly large income.
If you are guilty of having to create the appearance that you are wealthy in order to save face, you probably have a self esteem issue, not a money issue. Focus on your internal qualities as a parent, friend, sibling, rather than building up your material possessions.
After all, when someone passes away, does anyone ever give a eulogy and say, “He had a great car, a huge beautiful house, and $20,000 in debt. What a great guy he was!”
No. People remember the personal qualities and the value you brought to other’s lives, not to your own.
It’s easy in our society to get caught up in the message that you must have the latest and greatest technology, designer bags and shoes, or a brand new car every 3 years in order to be “successful”. But here’s the thing…..
Money and stuff doesn’t not equal success in life. If you don’t believe me, think of all of the hugely “successful” celebrities that have killed themselves… either by suicide or just living a fast life over the years. Trying anything and everything to reach that next high.
Their desire to have more, more, more was insatiable. Then when they finally reached what they thought would be the ultimate happiness–money, fame, big house, cars, ect. , they STILL weren’t happy! And where else can you go when you’re at the top, and still miserable? Most of them end up going DOWN a very dark place or dead.
Find Joy in Non-material Things
That brings me to my last tip on how to stop spending money to feel better. Be GRATEFUL for where you are at, financially and otherwise. Even if you are drowning in debt, you can decide to accept responsibility for how you got here, learn the lesson and reverse course. It will take time, commitment and patience, but you can do it!
Learn to find joy in things that don’t cost money. Start spending meaningful time with your family and friends. Those relationships are much more valuable than anything money can buy.
Speaking of which, teach your kids to value things that can’t be bought… like hard work, responsibility, and honesty.
Be honest with them about the mistakes you have made and teach them how to do better. Teach them that self worth and respect are not about how many fancy toys they have or how big their house is. My son attends a school with a lot of very wealthy kids, so I have to remind him of this quite often.
Find the joy in making a meal together as a family. Or if you’re single, invite friends over for a potluck and games.
Drive out of the city at night with your special someone. Just gaze at the stars and think about how awesome the universe is!
Finally, don’t beat yourself up for the decisions and habits that got you here. We all want to feel better when we’re depressed. You developed a coping skill that isn’t serving you well. Forgive yourself and move forward. Start working on new ways to heal yourself when you’re feeling down. Create goals you can get excited about and commit to working towards them.
You can do this!