When was the last time you made the right decision while wiping your tears? Or are you angry and shaking? Or sweating due to stress?
Your judgment was probably off between those emotional moments. You may have said that you regret it later — or you may have bangs.
Or you might have tapped a targeted Instagram ad for an expensive sweater you’ve never bought and worn.
Emotions influence decisions such as whether they need to be added to the cart.
“Emotions and decision-making are very strongly linked,” says Christian Crete, a financial therapist and professor of financial planning at the University of Georgia, Athens. “Sometimes our emotions invalidate our thinking process,” and “inundates our minds,” she adds.
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An era of emotion, finance and turmoil
Especially these days, it’s difficult to make logical, spock-like decisions. An ongoing pandemic adds a “layer of stress” to our lives, says Archuleta.
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As if more than 18 months of that stress wasn’t enough — what is it? — It’s the holiday season when your doorbell is ringing. As always, holidays appear earlier than expected and bring a great deal of luggage.
With the holidays, the family will come. There are also complex decisions about whether to meet during a pandemic. Alternatively, this season may bring loneliness and nostalgia. It can certainly cause financial pressure.
According to Archuleta, holidays can “strengthen” our emotions, making it especially difficult to “separate our thoughts from our emotions.”
Archuleta’s example: You may be spending too much money on gifts because you’re excited to finally meet your family and make up for a missing gathering last year.
Alternatively, you may be pale about not seeing your family, or for a variety of reasons. Down and exhausted, you may order more and more.
Oh, you’re doing emotional shopping. Here’s what to do.
Try “Body Scan” before you buy anything. Natasha Knox, a Certified Financial Planner and Certified Financial Behavior Specialist based in Vancouver, Canada, and Principal of Alaphia Financial Wellness, which provides planning, coaching and education, says.
She tells you to start with your feet and work your way up to see how you feel physically. Is your palm sweaty? Are your shoulders tense? Are your eyes half open when you are staring at your phone?
How your body feels on the outside can indicate emotions on the inside. For example, you may be discouraged, furious, exhausted, or bored.
Based on that information, Knox said, “You can ask yourself,’Are you buying a great solution?’”
For example, does buying that sweater get rid of boredom, or does it return to scrolling after 30 seconds?
Knox also proposes a “24 hour cooling period”. For now, leave the item on the shelf. If you want to buy tomorrow, and if you want to go back to the store to buy, it’s a better headspace to do so.
Stay away from online purchases, she says. Now close the tab promoting the perfect sweater that will solve all your problems. Wait for your decision and see if you feel the same tomorrow.
Even better, Archuleta adds that he will spend some of his time thinking about when, where, and how to use this purchase.
Make a plan when you’re not shopping.
Look back on your last few impulse purchases. Find out what was happening around you, Archuleta says. For example, was it a busy morning right after you took your kids outdoors? Did you buy a tool to relieve that stress?
Try to identify your environmental and emotional themes. Maybe you often shop on exhausted nights. Or you may be overusing things for your child when you feel guilty.
Knox also recommends considering retailer tactics that can trigger overspending. For example, is it difficult to abandon a two-to-one transaction? Or do you usually add some more items to your cart to get free shipping?
This remorse is not intended to embarrass you about the past. Ideally, it allows you to make more thoughtful shopping decisions in the future.
For example, Knox proposes to use what he has learned to create his own shopping principles.
For example, you may not shop online after 7 pm, or if you are drinking alcohol. You’ll probably create a rule that doesn’t click on the retailer’s email (it’s easy to do if you unsubscribe).
Or follow Archuleta’s classic decree, “Always create a shopping list.” If it’s not on the list, it’s not in your cart.
When setting up these rules, consider alternative ways of spending to manage your emotions at the moment. For example, if you’re stressed, you can call your friends and family, Archuleta says.
Knox also recommends identifying the reasons for creating these principles and writing them down. Think about what your life will look like a year from now if you can manage your spending better. “Ask yourself what you can get from now on.”
This article was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website Nerd Wallet. Laura McMullen is a writer for Nerd Wallet. Email: [email protected].. Twitter: @lauraemcmullen.
Copyright 2021 AP communication. all rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
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