Each and every one of us reacts completely differently to emotions. When happy, you might prefer to shout it from the rooftop. Or, you might prefer to curl up with a blanket and bask in the glow privately. Moments of sadness might cause you to reach out to a friend, or you might instead prefer quiet times of deep reflection and introspection. There is no right way for us to process emotions as long as the work of processing the emotion happens. Burying your emotions is not helpful.
The Bible says “No temptation has overtaken you, except what is common to man. God is faithful, He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear, but with the temptation will provide a way of escape so that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)Preparing yourself with reasonable strategies to help you avoid emotional spending is one possible escape route from the temptation.
Preparing yourself with reasonable strategies to help you avoid emotional spending is one possible escape route from the temptation. Pray: Ask God to help you internalize and remember these strategies when you are in the heat of the moment and have your hand on the bank card. He will provide the way of escape.
We have all fallen prey to letting big emotions rule, and can benefit from key strategies for managing big emotions in positive ways. Excessive shopping is not a positive way to deal with big emotions. Here are eight strategies to help you curb emotional spending.
- You have the power to say no. Understand that you have the ability to say “no” to any purchase. You are not being forced to buy anything. The choice is yours to put that item back on the shelf and walk away. Spending is a choice.
Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41
- Prepare in advance for spending temptations. Ask yourself which emotion consistently makes you want to splurge and spend that cash! Dig deep and look at some of the peaks and valleys of your emotions in the past. Do you spend big money when you are happy, or when you are sad? Are you buying to regress to a past emotion instead of dealing with a current emotion? Do you find yourself needing comfort when that familiar emotion strikes so you look for that in an item that brings short-lived happiness? Identifying the emotion that brings on the spending can help in preventing future splurges if you are prepared in advance. I am never more tempted to spend excessively than I am right after a fight with someone I love. Knowing my most likely moment of weakness helps me prepare.
- Be aware of your moods. Don’t allow the seasonal blues to entice you to spend money! Do you get anxious and want to get out of the house more during the wintertime? Feeling a little closed in or having cabin fever? Head to the gym, head out for a walk, but don’t go shopping at the store! If you are feeling the need to spend money, then don’t tempt yourself by going shopping! By doing that, you are just adding fuel to the fire and making it even harder on yourself to stop that emotional spending.
- Only carry cash. Leave those plastic cards full of invisible money at home! If you feel the need to shop based on emotion, only take a small amount of cash with you. Cash purchases are harder to make than swiping that credit card because it causes us to physically count, and hand over actual money to someone else. Talk about emotions!
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. James 1:14
- Think about tomorrow. Having a bad day? Chin up! Tomorrow has the potential to be better! Don’t prolong the no-good, very bad, terrible day by shopping and spending a bunch of money you don’t actually have….you’ll feel bad again tomorrow when you think back on all the money you spent the day before just because you were feeling sad!
- Walk away. At the store and feeling the urge to spend? Walk away. Set it back on the shelf, and leave the store. At home, surfing the net looking for ANYTHING to buy? Shut it down. Tell yourself no and stick to it. To remove yourself from the want to spend, you physically need to try to remove yourself from the situation. (ie the store or the computer)
- Give it time. Always wait at least 24 hours before making a big purchase. Big emotions can call for big purchases, right? While you may think that you need a new TV RIGHT NOW, give that feeling time. There will always be TV’s to buy. Unlike freezers and toilet paper, I foresee no shortage of televisions in the near future. Wait 2 weeks, then return back to the thought of wanting to purchase that big-ticket item. Is the want or need still there? If so, you’ve allowed time for your impulse emotion to potentially subside and your budget-friendly conscience to weigh out the pros and the cons of the purchase.
But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.1 Timothy 6:9
- One in – one out. If you are unable to say “no” to purchases, give yourself a rule of thumb to think before making any purchase. For every item that you impulsively buy, you have to get rid of something else inside your home of equal value. Yes, EQUAL value. Can you part with your favorite chair just because you saw a new one that you liked on a whim? That question is up to you to answer and decide.
Curb emotional spending habits with prayer, forethought, and planning.