Millennial Money: Do you want that sweater or are you sad? | Business


When was the last time you made a good decision while wiping away tears? Or trembling with fury? Or sweat from stress?

Your judgment was probably wrong during these emotional times. Maybe you said something you later regretted – or got bangs.

Or maybe you’ve tapped into a targeted Instagram ad for an expensive sweater, which you bought and never wore.

Feelings influence decisions, including whether to add to the cart.

“Emotions and decision-making are very closely linked,” says Kristy Archuleta, financial therapist and professor of financial planning at the University of Georgia in Athens. “Sometimes our emotions take precedence over our thinking process” and “flood our mind,” she adds.

To save money, please do not enter your credit card information while you are going through this flood.


Making a logical Spock decision is difficult, especially nowadays. The ongoing pandemic is adding a “layer of stress” to our lives, Archuleta says.

As if more than 18 months of stress weren’t enough, what is it? – it’s the holiday season ringing at your doorstep. As usual, the holidays arrive earlier than expected and bring so, so much baggage.

With the holidays comes family and, again, complicated decisions about whether or not to reunite during the pandemic. Or maybe this season brings loneliness and nostalgia. It can certainly trigger financial pressure.

Holidays can “intensify” our emotions, Archuleta says, and make it especially difficult to “separate our thoughts from our feelings.”

An example from Archuleta: Maybe you’re spending too much on gifts, because you can’t wait to finally see your family or catch up on missed gatherings last year.

Or maybe you’re sick of not seeing a family – or for a number of reasons. Broken down and exhausted, you can order more and more things.


Before buying anything, try a “body scan,” says Natasha Knox, a certified financial planner based in Vancouver, Canada and Certified Financial Behavior Specialist, who is also the director of Alaphia Financial Wellness, which offers planning, coaching and education.

Starting with your feet and working your way up, she says, check how you feel physically. Are your palms sweaty? Are your shoulders tight? Are your eyes half open when you stare at your phone?

The way your body feels on the outside can indicate feelings on the inside. For example, you might be downhearted, enraged, exhausted, or bored.

With this information Knox says, “You may be asking yourself, ‘is buying it a great solution? “”

Would buying that sweater solve your boredom, for example, or would you be scrolling again 30 seconds later? Knox also suggests giving yourself a “24 hour cool down”. Leave this item on the shelf for now. If you want to buy it tomorrow – and go back to the store – you’ll have better free space to do so.

Also stay away from online shopping, she says. Close the tab touting the perfect sweater that will solve all your problems right now. Sleep on the decision and see if you are feeling the same tomorrow.

Better yet, Archuleta adds, use some of that time to think about when, where and how you would use that purchase.


Think about your last impulse buys. Examine what was going on around you, Archuleta said. For example, she adds, was it a hectic morning soon after we got the kids out? Was shopping a tool to relieve this stress?

Try to identify themes in your surroundings and your feelings. Maybe you shop often at night when you’re exhausted. Or maybe you’re spending too much on things for your kids when you’re feeling guilty.

Knox also recommends taking into account retailer tactics that get you to overspend. Is it difficult to pass up a two-for-one deal, for example? Or do you usually add a few more items to your cart to qualify for free shipping?

This reflection is not meant to make you ashamed of the past. Ideally, this allows you to make more thoughtful buying decisions in the future.

For example, Knox suggests using what you’ve learned to create buying principles for yourself.

Maybe you don’t shop online after 7 p.m., for example, or you’ve been drinking. Perhaps your rule is to never click on retailer emails (which is easier to do if you unsubscribe).

Or follow Archuleta’s classic decree: always make a shopping list. If it’s not on the list, it’s not in your cart.

When setting these rules, also consider alternatives to spending to deal with your emotions in the moment. If you’re stressed out, for example, maybe calling a friend or family member could help, says Archuleta.

Knox also recommends determining why you are establishing these principles and writing those reasons down. Think about what your life would be like a year from now if you could get more control over your spending, she said, adding, “Ask yourself, ‘What’s good in this going to do? “

This article was provided to The Associated Press by the NerdWallet personal finance website. Laura McMullen is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @lauraemcmullen.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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