Why your emotions are driving your spending habits

AJ Wolbrum — Budget Coach ajwolbrum@gmail.com

“I get so emotional, baby
Every time I think of you
I get so emotional, baby
Ain’t it shocking what love can do”

Thank you Whitney Houston for perfectly describing the feeling of an emotional reaction. If you replace the word love with ‘fear,’ ‘anger,’ ‘loneliness,’ or ‘grief’ you’ll get the same outcome. Love is certainty not the only emotion that warrants decision making.

All emotions good or bad cause a chemical reaction inside of us. Have you ever been so angry you can’t see straight, you start to sweat and can hear your heart inside your ears? Have you ever been so lonely that the pain thumps in your chest so loudly you fear that the person next to you can hear it. What about fear? Have you ever left work in complete dread, wondering if you have a job to go back to?

Yeah. You have. We all have.

I remember the first time I felt loneliness and I didn’t text an ex boyfriend. It was the strangest thing. I had never associated that feeling with loneliness, I only knew that occasionally out of nowhere I would have an urge to reach out to an ex. Sometimes they would respond and we would connect and I’d feel pretty shitty afterwards. Or sometimes they wouldn’t respond and I’d feel pretty shitty afterwards. It never felt good and I never really questioned why I did it, other than it seemed kind of socially normal to slip up and text/call your ex.

It was during a time when I was doing a lot of work on how I showed up in relationships. After a terrible breakup, I decided to stop looking at how they were wrong or right and started looking at why I felt undeserving of love and companionship. The work was rewarding and insightful, it was also challenging and painful. There were nights I would ache with loneliness. I would sleep between my pillows so I could pretend someone was holding me.

It was during those lonely nights that I would look at my phone. Wanting to reach out to somebody, anybody who would take that pain away. But I didn’t. I allowed myself to fully feel the depths of my loneliness. I cried and held myself and made a promise that I would stop dating men who didn’t see and hear me. That I would show up differently in relationships and that I wouldn’t react to the pain but instead embrace it.

And then something magical happened. The pain of loneliness was replaced with hope. It didn’t happen over night but it didn’t take long for the seeds of faith to renew my lonely spirit. Loneliness use to be the beginning of a long destructive road now felt peaceful and almost purposeful. In sitting through the discomfort of my pain I had turned my sadness into the vehicle to receive love.

Our emotions are so embedded in our decision making and if we’re not quiet enough to hear them they’ll run our whole life. From your first coffee in the morning to your glass of wine at night; if you don’t understand your emotional landscape you will never be able to control your finances.


Can you write down your last 5-15 purchases. Anything from a bottle of water to a taxi to a pair of jeans.

Then write down an emotion that comes to mind from the purchase. Example: Say you were running late and needed to take a cab you would write next to cab — fear. Or say you had a busy morning and needed to grab something quick to eat but you were really hungry you’d write next to lunch — starving.

Then can you write down if any of your purchase were a. essential (meaning survival) b. unnecessary c. unmemorable or d. useful. Notice any patterns.

If you want to take it a step further you can write along the purchase, emotion and necessity: 1. I could have gotten something cheaper 2. I spent the right amount 3. This was a bargain!

Notice how many purchases were made from a specific emotions. How many purchases were unnecessary. How many involved little to no thought. Get real with yourself. And share your thoughts with your friends or family. You’ll learn a lot about your emotions and even more you’ll learn how to cut the fat on some of your spending; so your financial choices are more about true need rather than instant filler for your unconscious emotional behavior.

For support in making your dreams reality reach out. I’ll get you set up with the following services: a live personalized budget to match your unique needs, assistance with creating attainable goals, debt and savings support.

Contact: ajwolbrum@gmail.com

AJ is a Financial Freedom Coach and the founder of Beyond The Green Coaching. https://www.beyondthegreencoaching.com/