Stress spending and don’t understand why? Since the beginning of the pandemic, Amazon and Walmart together earn an additional 10.7 billion dollars. How much of the profit these extremely large companies made relates to the stress of having to be quarantine, staying at home isolated, and not being able to do what you normally do? Here is another astonishing statistic, 64% of Americans admit that their spending habits have changed since the start of the pandemic.

When the pandemic first started, many were spending extra money at the grocery store because they fear they may run out of the essentials like toilet paper and disinfectant. Once the panic spending subsides, and people embrace their quarantine, that’s when stress spending starts. People reached for their laptops or iPad to spend money on a variety of things. Look at the chart below published by the New York Times.

 It’s clear that consumers didn’t hesitate to spend their savings, but you have to wonder how many of these individuals spend out of need and how many reached for their debit or credit card because of stress. Perhaps because of the pandemic and its repercussions.


You can only imagine the impact of staying home:

  • To deal with the children who normally go to school and are now home.
  • Be a full-time parent, teacher, and everything in between.
  • Discovering quirks about your spouse, you swear never existed since you married ten years ago.
  • Cleaning up behind your kids and spouse
  • Having to learn new technologies so you can work remotely

The scenarios are endless and each one and then some can contribute to easing your ever-growing stress. You want to feel in control during these uncertain times, and spending is your immediate solution.


How do you know stress spending is an issue?

The question isn’t how do you know, It should be what are you feeling. Stress spenders don’t spend because they have the money and say why not? They spend because of a multitude of reasons. Here is a list of potential triggers.


  • Boredom
  • Loneliness
  • Grief
  • Work stress
  • Anxiety
  • Bad mood
  • Lacking confidence
  • Unbelievable happiness
  • Fear
  • Overwhelm
  • Rejection
  • Over work
  • Finances
  • Poor relationships
  • A pandemic


Consider what can cause stress for you, and what you’ve purchased lately. Can you see the connection between the purchases and what’s happening in your life right now? Still, there are more blatant symptoms to consider. A perfect example is the “I deserve this syndrome.” If you need to spend money to boost your mood, that’s a clear sign that something is wrong. A new possession doesn’t equal happiness or fulfillment.



Stress spending is understandable, right?

When you feel as if you’ve lost control of some aspect of your life, buying something, no matter what it is, heightens your mood. For a moment, you feel happy and in control of your life. It also helps that it feels good to buy that Louis Vuitton handbag. It feels fantastic getting the latest iPhone. However, as acceptable as you may feel in the moment, the reality of the purchase happens before the package even arrives at your door. For some, the reality of the purchase happens minutes after hitting the submit button. For others, it’s when you check your bank balance or your credit card statement.

Still, it is understandable, because you need to have some dominion over your life. But your spending is affecting your finances. Perhaps there are bills that need to be paid that’s not getting paid. What about if you are out of work because of the pandemic and need to conserve money? Only you know the circumstances or the condition of your finances. You also know you cannot continue to stress spend.


Here is the easy fix:

Like most habits, fixing an unpleasant habit like stress spending won’t happen overnight. Telling yourself you are going to stop spending to fill an internal void is not enough. Chances are, you will not hesitate to buy the next item you tell yourself you deserve. Instead, try this: I mention it above, but it’s worth mentioning again because it is the key to ending a bad habit. Identify your trigger. You need to know what’s happening in your life that’s causing you to want to maintain control through emotional spending, or spending to feel happy.

It’s easy to say stop visiting the online store you frequent, but let’s be honest, your issue isn’t a website you visit often. It’s an innately deeper issue. That trigger is the key to ending your negative spending habit.


How to identify the trigger

Your issues are stress spending, so the goal is to identify the moments that cause the stress. It’s time to become an observer of your life and apply five questions to every moment you suspect may be your trigger.

  1. Where are you?
  2. Make note of the time?
  3. What are you feeling?
  4. Are there others involved (family, friends)?
  5. What happened before the urge to spend?

Take a deep breath, pause, then ask yourself the above five questions every time you sit at a computer about to spend money, or in a store buying more than you need.

The one thing you shouldn’t do is berate yourself. Reprimanding yourself solves nothing. Admitting that you may need help and finding a therapist is a better solution. The goal is to stop a habit that is affecting your finances. One thing is clear: the money you have is an asset you need to conserve.


How do you cope with stress spending? Share with our community.