Guest post from Ashlee of Mom Life Together:
My family keeps close track of our finances. We tithe. We save for our daughter’s education, our retirement and other future expenses. Except for our home, we make every purchase is in cash. In short, we do almost almost everything “right.”
The biggest factor in my financial health is not being able to do all the items listed above… it’s the spending that occurs when I am not emotionally or spiritually healthy.
When too many Amazon boxes show up at our door, my husband will ask why I am upset. It’s obvious to both us that when there is a hole in one area of my life, I try to fill it with new things. Instead of dealing with the issues, I turn to shopping.
Through my journey I have learned a few ways to deal with the hurt/spend connection.
1. Have a written budget.
It’s so important to have a plan for your money. We are fortunate enough that our monthly budget includes a small fund for each family member to use for whatever he or she might need/want. This fund allows me to make extra purchases in moderation. Therefore, I don’t feel deprived or controlled by the budget.
We also have separate categories for items like clothing. I won’t even venture into certain stores if I haven’t saved enough to make a purchase. I am more likely to look at discount or thrift stores so I am not tempted to overspend.
2. Talk to someone about how you are feeling.
I tend to shop more when I’m holding something inside and not letting my feelings come to the surface. I feel less alone and more likely to seek out healthier methods of coping when I can talk to someone — my spouse, a friend, or another support person.
3. Find other activities you enjoy.
One reason I started blogging was because I found myself clicking on promotional emails and shopping whenever I got online. Now, when I get on my computer I have a stronger desire to write than to shop.
I’ve also noticed that my friends and I tend to shop when we get some kid free time. Of course it’s always easier to do the grocery shopping or other errands with that time. However, it’s also easier to go to department or big box stores, too.
Coffee shops have become my favorite kid-free time destination too. Yes, this does involve spending some money, but a $3 coffee fits in my budget a lot easier than a $100+ Target trip!
4. Don’t actually make a purchase.
NOTE: I only recommend this if you have a lot of self control!
Sometimes I enjoy just looking at my favorite websites to see what is available. I will put items in my cart that I never intend to purchase. However, you should know that in a few days you will probably start to receive emails with extra discounts to motivate you to complete your purchase.
5. Find the real solution.
All of the ideas above are just coping mechanisms for over-spending. You need to work on whatever heart issue you are experiencing to really make progress.
Spend time with God, reflecting on the hurt and seek the appropriate help.
If shopping has become an addiction for you (much like drugs or alcohol) it is important that you take your healing journey seriously.
You can be doing all the “right” things financially and on paper but if you are have a hurt that is leading you to overspend, you will never fully achieve financial health without finding a real solution.
Ashlee writes at Mom Life Together. Her hope is that all mothers will find a safe place to share authentically about their journeys without the fear of judgement.