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You may have noticed I’ve been MIA on the blog recently. It’s been a tough few weeks, and I wasn’t feeling the whole blogging thing. Our pup Baxter had been battling cancer since last Fall, and the moment we’d been dreading came and we had to put him down on March 27th. It sucked. Even though we knew it was coming, we weren’t at all ready. That last week he went downhill faster than expected, and it was obvious it was time. Flash forward to now, and things are better. I still miss him like crazy, but it doesn’t feel as raw.

Coping with grief is not something I’m good at. Honestly, I haven’t had much practice. I’ve been lucky to have avoided significant loss throughout most of my life. I guess that’s one of the perks of having a tiny family. Losing Bax was a blow, but it taught me a few things about myself. When bad things happen I shut down, but I also try to overcompensate in other areas. Hello emotional spending.

Coming to the realization that I was spending money to make myself feel better is when I knew it was time to get back to my normal. It’s not so much about moving on as it is about reestablishing good habits.

Compensating for the Bad

We want to be happy. When something crappy happens, our goal becomes finding a way to fix it. For me, that often means spending money to try and bring a little happiness back. This isn’t always a grief thing; it can also be a self-esteem thing. Not feeling great about yourself, maybe a new outfit can fix it? Who has the energy to cook dinner when restaurants are an option?

This has been me lately. Instead of focusing on the inside, I’ve been looking for quick fixes for the outside. If you had a camera in my closet, you would have heard a lot of angry “I have nothing to wear!” and so I went shopping. Mmhmm. I’ve also had a serious itch to finish everything on the house to-do list. We painted to the bathroom (again), I bought a new rug for the upstairs living room and a few random knick-knacks. I’m going to let you in on a secret though. None of these things have made me miss my pup any less. Shocking right? I might have a few new outfits to choose from, but it didn’t fix anything.

Lack of Motivation

I feel tired. When you lose something, you carry extra weight around for a while. It’s been a real motivation killer. At the start of the year, I made a list of intentions for 2019. I started strong but have been falling behind. I’m letting myself off the hook for now but not for forever. It’s time to get back in the groove.

What does motivation have to do with emotional spending? More than you might think. Paying for stuff is so easy! Eating out is so much easier than cooking, paying someone to clean your house is easier than doing it yourself, and shopping online is easier than seeking out the best deal.

I have no problem paying for convenience; our time is valuable. But that’s not what this is about. These aren’t regular line items in my budget for a reason. This is me paying for comfort instead of convenience.

Replacing Bad Habits with Good

Right now spending has become the new norm, and that’s not great. A small saving grace is that our pet expenses have decreased. One dog (especially big dogs) is cheaper than two dogs. Even though we had pet insurance for Bax which covered 90% of his treatments, we were still paying at least a couple of hundred dollars a month for his chemo treatments. It was a temporary expense we could afford and were willing to take on to give him more time, but shifting that expense into post emotional spending was not the plan.

I need to find a cheaper alternative to keep my mind busy. I’m hoping blogging will be that thing again. I’ve got a list of post ideas I want to write but am still struggling to sit down and get back to writing. The fact that the weather has turned and Spring is officially here makes it that much easier to distract myself outside. Our new garden needs some serious TLC and it’s just so much more pleasant get out for long dog walks or bike rides when it’s warm!

We all have our slip-ups when it comes to our money and for me, emotions play a huge role in that. It’s so much easier to stay on track when I’m in a good place. And that’s not just a money thing. I let a lot of things slide (healthy eating, exercise, blogging, etc.) when I’m not feeling my best. I’m not dwelling. One month of not so great is not going to throw any long-term plans for a loop. Time to set things back on the right track though, and that means you’ll be hearing from me on my regular weekly schedule 😉

PS. Thank you to everyone who sent me messages over the last bit. It really means a lot, and I’m so thankful to have such a great community around me. You guys really are swell!

How emotional spending can wreck havoc on your finances, and what you can do about it.

This post was proofread by Grammarly.

2 Comments

  1. Sending a million virtual hugs! Grief is hard. There’s no manual. And no one can tell you how you’ll react to it or how long it will take. I can certainly relate to using consumerism as a way of avoiding intense emotions (grief and otherwise). It’s hard to take the time to actually look at the thing you’ve been avoiding. In a lot of ways, I think it’s kind of a modern day defence mechanism. It keeps us emotionally safe to block it out. We know that it’s not a sustainable behaviour but until we come out the other side and actually have the capacity to really deal with it, there’s very little we can do to hanger the behaviour (because we likely can’t see that we’re doing it). I think you’re doing awesome balancing giving yourself some space and dealing with the loss of Bax. You’re doing better than you think.

    • Sarah Reply

      Thanks Britt, you have a great way of looking at it <3

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