Emotional Spending

There is a connection between our emotions and our money, a link that is preyed upon countless times each day by advertisers promising to trade us happiness for our hard-earned cash. Most of us have money, and all of us seek happiness; pushing the link between the two is a sure-fire way for a marketer to come up with earnings.

The real trick to spending less is to figure out how to feel happier about not spending money. We see people in advertisements and billboards looking beautiful, young, sexy, and happy while using various products – and we want to feel that way too. Effective ads are so good that they often leave us feeling inadequate if we don’t spend the money and buy the product. This is a big trap that many of us fall into – we begin to feel sad if we don’t spend money.

Here are several techniques to use to bring about positive feelings about being frugal.

Remind yourself of your goals as often as possible. For me, I’m saving money so I can retire early and travel. I went on a wonderful two weeks vacation to the ‘United Arab Emirates‘ early this year and I long for retirement so I can do more international traveling. I realize that every time I don’t spend money and instead save it, I’m a step closer to this dream. So, I’ve posted pictures of my dream everywhere: pictures of places that I want to travel to, along with pictures of my vacation to the U.A.E.

Keep visual reminders of your progress, not of how far you have to go. I check the balances of my savings and investment accounts daily – and I enjoy watching their balances go up. Every once in a while, I’ll print off the balance of my savings in huge, bold numbers and post it somewhere where I can see it regularly. It’s a visual reminder of what I’m doing that’s positive – and a constant reminder that I don’t need to spend money to feel happy.

Ask yourself why. I do this in two ways. First, I ask myself why I want to buy something. It is almost shocking how often I can’t come up with a real reason – the truth is that I’m being compelled to buy the item due to an advertisement. Second, whenever I see an ad, I ask myself why it’s put together that way. When I make myself consider why an ad that could be attractive to me actually is attractive to me, the power of it just seems to disappear. I often find myself laughing at (and on some level admiring the skill behind) advertisements that used to sway me to buy.

Keep up my personal appearance without spending money. For me (and for most people, I believe), there is a strong connection between positive feelings and personal appearance. Whenever I start feeling like I need to buy something, I go and visit a friend.

Turn to what you already have. When I have a desire to buy a new book, I go look at my bookshelves at the books I already have and pick up one of those.

Get some exercise. Endorphins are an incredibly strong uplifter. Find a method of exercise that is appropriate for your level of fitness and for your interests. For me, it happens to be Dance Dance Revolution on nonstop exercise mode (meaning the game plays in such a way as to maximize your workout). If I feel the urge to go shopping, I pick up a book and read or remind myself about the exorbitant price I would be paying for a relatively good pair of Italian shoes instead of saving and I suddenly get a big mood boost.

Do fun things that are free (or close to it). For me, I derive a lot of joy from the act of writing. Find those things that make you feel good that don’t cost anything and spend your spare time focusing on those things. Not only will you be happy simply enjoying what you like, but you’ll feel good later realizing that you didn’t spend any money.

These are the most effective tactics in my repertoire in terms of deriving ways to find happiness from not spending money.


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