Emotional spending isn’t an unknown phenomena. People who are sad, depressed, and sometimes even just plain bored have been known to go out and spend money on things they don’t need for no real reason. This impulse, for many, is even stronger during the holiday season, when adding “just one more thing” to the cart doesn’t seem like as big a deal as it actually is.

Make a list and Check it Twice

You know who you need to buy for. Sit down and think about each person and what you’d like to give as a gift this holiday season. When you go to the store, look specifically for the things on your list and do not buy anything additional, especially if it’s for yourself. Sticking to the list will help you not only with your emotional spending, but with your overall holiday budget as well.

How To Avoid Emotional Spending Habits This Holiday Season

Know your Triggers – and avoid them

What things in your life make you want to shop? Is it something about hearing a sappy Christmas song on the radio? Do the circulars that come in the mail make you create your own mental “wish list?” Avoid the things that make you want to spend money you don’t have on things you don’t need.

Sales don’t always Mean Savings

I’m a sucker for a good sale. The problem is most of the stuff that goes on sale is not stuff I really need. You do know the difference between a want and a need, right? If you’re buying things you don’t need because they’re on sale – especially because  you can find some sort of emotional justification – you may have a problem. Avoid the clearance racks at all costs.

Avoid Impulse Purchases

Impulse purchases are the things you buy that are not on your list. The “ohhh, shiny” items you thrown in your cart because they look cool and have a great price tag. They’re the sweaters you didn’t go into the store to buy; or the cell phone upgrade you didn’t really need. If you see something you think you want, write it down and put the list away for a week. If you still want it in a week, check your finances and go back for it. If not, move on.

Find Other Outlets

Feeling emotional? Mourning a loss? Find another healthy outlet. Join a book club. Find an excercise group. Lace up your sneakers and go for a walk. Do anything that does not involve getting in your car and driving to a place where you’ll end up spending more money!

Emotional spending can cripple your finances any time of year, but can be especially damaging during the holidays. Stay conscious of your habits and you’ll make it to the New Year unscathed. And if you’re still not sure what to do? You’ll find more topics here, on Smart Asset, similar to this, and you may just find more tips and tricks to help!