Millennial Money: Do you want this sweatshirt, or are you sad?

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Millennial Money: Do you want this sweatshirt, or are you sad?

Or maybe you tapped a targeted Instagram ad for a pricey sweater, which you bought and never wore.

“Emotions and decision-making are very strongly connected,” says Kristy Archuleta , financial therapist and professor of financial planning at the University of Georgia in Athens. “Sometimes our emotions override our thinking process” and “flood our mind,” she adds.

Feelings, finances and turbulent times

To save money, please don’t enter your credit card information as you’re wading through that flood.

Story Highlights

  • Your judgment was probably off during those emotional moments. Maybe you said something you later regretted — or got bangs.

  • Feelings influence decisions, including whether we should add to cart.

Making a logical, Spock-like decision is tough, particularly nowadays. The ongoing pandemic adds a “layer of stress” to our lives, Archuleta says.

As if more than 18 months of that stress weren’t enough — what’s that? — it’s the holiday season ringing your doorbell. As usual, the holidays show up sooner than expected and bring so, so much baggage.

Along with the holidays comes family and, again, complicated decisions about gathering or not during the pandemic. Or maybe this season brings loneliness and nostalgia. It can certainly trigger financial pressure. The holidays can “intensify” our emotions, Archuleta says, and make it particularly difficult to “separate our thinking from our feelings.”

An example from Archuleta: Maybe you overspend on gifts, because you’re excited to finally see your family or to make up for missing gatherings last year. Or perhaps you’re blue about not seeing family — or for any number of reasons. Down and depleted, you may order more and more stuff.

Uh oh, you’re emotional shopping. Here’s what to do. Before buying anything, try a “body scan,” says Natasha Knox, a Vancouver, Canada-based certified financial planner and certified financial behavior specialist , who’s also the principal of Alaphia Financial Wellness, which offers planning, coaching and education.

With that intel, Knox says, “you can ask yourself: ‘is buying this a great solution?’” Would buying that sweater fix your boredom, for example, or would you be back to scrolling 30 seconds later?

How your body feels on the outside can indicate feelings on the inside. For example, maybe you’re despondent, enraged, exhausted or bored. Starting with your feet and working your way up, she says, check in with how you’re physically feeling. Are your palms sweaty? Are your shoulders tense? Are your eyes half-open as you stare at your phone?