You experience stress, sadness, anger, shame or some other unwelcome emotion. That’s bad enough, right?
It gets worse, especially if you start shopping. Negative feelings can upend your better judgment and cause you to buy pricey stuff that you’ll regret later.
Wallow without reaching for your wallet.
Nearly half of Americans (49%) admit that their emotions drove them to spend more than they can reasonably afford, according to a 2017 NerdWallet survey. And younger adults are more apt to overspend when they’re grappling with adverse emotions, compared to baby boomers who know how to wallow without reaching for their wallet.
“How do I feel right now?”
If you’re about to spend lavishly on something and you’re quaking inside, that’s a red flag. Stop, close your eyes, take a deep breath and ask yourself, “How do I feel right now?”
Detaching yourself from the moment—and acknowledging your prevailing feelings—boosts your self-awareness. From there, you can assess to what extent your emotions are marring your ability to make an informed, levelheaded buying decision.
Better yet, imagine it is six months or a year from now. Reflect on the purchase you’ve made. Was it worth it? If you could assign a dollar value to the lasting gratification you gained, what would it be?
Remember, emotions fluctuate.
Yes, buying the item dangling in front of you might help you feel better—or at least tamp down your flaring emotions. And perhaps the transaction will reinforce your desired identity (artsy dreamer, misunderstood genius, seen-it-all cynic) or fuel an “I deserve it” pity party.
There’s nothing wrong with indulging your fleeting feelings, except that they’re, um, fleeting. Emotions fluctuate. From irritation to elation to grief, you’ll always want money in the bank.