Why did I buy that?

Uncategorized Feb 25, 2021

This may be a bit touchy for some. I have to address this because I care. I have been silent for far too long on this subject. The clutter I see in working with clients is debilitating emotionally, physically and spiritually. This is especially true when it comes from emotional shopping. 

What is emotional shopping? Shopping in response to emotion. This means it’s attached to a want more than an actual need. In addressing the clutter in people’s homes, I’ve heard the comment, “I don’t even know why I bought this.” I have found that to be a telling statement. The other comment is, “ I bought it on sale.” This is the justification behind the action. The thrill of the sale is a high not unlike one that someone taking drugs may get. So let’s look at where the emotional connection comes from so we can make some correction to curtail it.

Instant gratification- this is huge today especially with companies that can deliver to you within 24 hours and you don’t have to leave your house! Again, this speaks to the high one gets from purchasing and immediately or almost immediately receiving the purchase. The Dopamine levels in the brain are released and there is the feel good feeling. The Dopamine level won’t stay up forever and then there is the letdown of what you just purchased.

Running from reality- shopping is the escape from whatever it is you are running from. It could also tie into procrastination in doing something other than what you should be doing. Surfing the internet is the hobby of the day and it can cost alot of money to surf and mindlessly shop!

Fit in with the crowd- Buying the name brand items to feel like you’ve reached a particular status. This is a false sense of identity in equating who you are with the brand name you purchased. There is  emotional clutter in knowing you have this special brand name but you still don’t have the friends you were trying to get the attention of.

Buying when stressed about money- seems contradictory, doesn’t it? However, there is a little voice in the back of your head that’s upset about the money you don’t actually have and this means you can’t have something. The emotional piece here is the trigger of not being able to have something you want. To retaliate against this emotion you buy something. It may be of lesser value than the item you really want but it is still a purchase attached to emotion. Chances are this item will be a source of clutter for you because it will remind you of what you couldn’t have.

As you can see shopping is attached to all emotions. Excessive shopping can be financially dangerous. 


How do we keep this in check?

1. Get real with your financial situation-sit down and figure out what you make and what you spend. Do you need help with setting up a budget. I like to use www.everydollar.com but there are others out there.

2. Be honest about what you already have ( do you have too much or too little?) What is the reasonable amount of a particular item?

3. Learn healthy techniques to get a similar rush. For example, if you feel the urge to shop, get up and jog in place or run around the room. This really works even though it sounds silly! Keep yourself busy when the urge to shop is calling.

4. Ask yourself how long will you have to work to pay for that item?

5. Pause now-buy later. This delays gratification and the amazing thing is the brain will go along with it.

6. Avoid places that trigger shopping. Unsubscribe from all of the places you shop and that send you notifications about sales. Delete the shopping  apps from your phone. You may be able to add them later but for now, they have to go.

7. Be accountable to yourself. This is your financial situation. It might be a good time to set a financial goal to work toward. A goal keeps you focused on directing your money elsewhere.

8. There are therapists that can help if you need more. There are also financial counselors that can help too.

In the United States, we have abundance of everything. Our stuff doesn’t make us happy and it certainly can’t define who we are. Clutter is something that can suck the life out of you. Creating a healthy relationship with shopping is going to improve your life and your finances.

Looking for more information on getting organized? www.organizeyouinsideandout.com


Darlene Illig

Professional Organizer

Organize You Inside and Out


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