Emotional spending and how to keep it at bay this Christmas

Merry Christmas!


With everyone looking to see how they can spend as much quality time with family this year, whilst respecting Government guidelines, there is still the inclination as a nation to spend so much during the festive season.

Why? Because we want to make people around us happy and make sure that everyone feels remembered.

At this time of year expectations and emotions run high; especially with the restraints and pressures COVID19 are bringing about. Feelings of guilt, isolation, loneliness, grief and frustration are making us all look for an escape. With an increase in demand for multiple mental health and additional services; it is no wonder that if spending makes us feel good; than we are likely to do it – especially this year!

Shopping and the enjoyment of finding the perfect gift for someone you care about can take our minds off of other demands and worries; whilst also providing relief from other feelings; such as guilt of tension, by using Christmas gifts as an opportunity to bridge relationships. 

The rationale behind emotional spending can come in many forms; from rewarding yourself, to making yourself feel better, a distraction technique or as a simple thrill (if you’ve ever got yourself a boxing day bargain you will understand the thrill of bagging a discount). And let’s not forget the compulsive shopper; a hoarder in disguise that cannot go shopping without making a purchase.

With such positive emotions attributed to spending; it is a dangerous activity to get embroiled in without boundaries. Emotional spending can lead to multiple consequences when not monitored; such as debt, relationship conflict and disappointment.


So how do we monitor our emotional spending?

  • Set a budget for Christmas cost.

Set a budget that is reasonable and will not lead you to spending money that you don’t have. Overspending during the Christmas period can have a long-term impact on your finances throughout the whole year ahead- and we definitely don’t need 2021 to be stressful after the past year we have all had! Spending sensibly this Christmas will keep us in good financial standing for the year ahead!


  • It’s all in the preparation.

I always draw a table with 4 columns when planning my Christmas shopping. 

The four columns I use are: Name, Gift, Shop name/Seller and Price.

The most important thing to remember when planning a Christmas list is that the meaning behind a gift means so much more than the gift itself; so focus on the reasons why, rather than the price. A less expensive gift with a huge amount of meeting is much more wanted than an expensive gift with no thought behind it.


  • Plan a fun-filled day

I know that this year it will be harder to plan a fun-filled day for Christmas, with so many missing seeing their loved ones over the festive period due to COVID19. But that doesn’t mean to say that you can’t plan free activities to help spread the Christmas joy. From board games, to festive Zoom calls, from conversation-starter topics to making cards that can be sent to the loved-ones you cannot see this year; there are so many ways to show someone you care without spending money.


  • Cards are about meaning, not value

In tough financial times you often hear loved ones saying “Don’t worry about a present, just a card will do.” If you are struggling financially this year, remember the true meaning of Christmas; and that is to show those you care about how much you care. Make a card and make sure that the message you write inside is one that truly matters to you, and one that tell the recipient exactly how you feel about them. There are cards that I have kept for years because of their powerful and personal messages. A self-made, meaningful card can mean so much. Don’t put pressure on yourself to buy extravagant gifts and overpriced cards this year; remember the value in meaning and words.


However you are spending Christmas this year, I wish you a very merry Christmas and a healthy and happy new year.