How to Stop Emotional Spending

If you can associate a happy (like the day you got engaged) or sad memory (like the day you got laid off) with half the items in your closet most of the furniture in your house, it’s time to consider if your feelings are fueling these shopping sprees. Here’s how to stop your emotions from landing you in debt.

Keep track of what feelings tend to precipitate a spending spree. If you can begin to identify a pattern, you'll be better equipped to stop yourself when the situation presents itself.

Think about what you're hoping to get out of the purchase: Are you buying those shoes because a) you need a pair of dress shoes or b) you think nice shoes will help you land a promotion at work? If the answer is B (and you don't work in fashion), step away from the cash register.

Beware the small stuff. Just because something is cheap doesn't mean you should buy it. As we all know, even little things add up. So ask yourself if you'd still buy the item if it wasn't on sale. If the answer is “no," don't buy it.

Designate a portion of your budget for the fun stuff. This trick is kind of like the “everything in moderation" approach to dieting: Just like allowing yourself a little chocolate will keep you from bingeing on it, letting yourself shop for non-necessities on occasion might be all you need to avoid spending your entire paycheck after one bad day of work.

Avoid triggers. Stay away from stores—except for when you actually need something. That means no window shopping or “perusing" the merchandise. Stop teasing yourself, and find a new hobby.

Distract yourself. Think up a new reward or outlet, other than shopping, for next time you're feeling lousy or want to celebrate good news. Have drinks with your honey, go see a movie or organize your closet, so you remember why you don't need to go shopping. Sometimes, emotional spending happens simply because we're bored, so figuring out other things you can do in those situations can save you a lot of money.

Learn How to Shop like a Pro.