On Wednesday, March 25, the Student Money Management Center, in association with the SHSU Counseling Center, educated students about the practice of emotional spending, which has become quite common with college students.
The presentation, held in LSC 320, was given by Dr. Andrew Miller of the Counseling Center. His presentation included reasons why people engage in emotional spending and, of course, ways to cope with it.
By their senior year, many college students find themselves, on average, $5000 in debt, some of which can be due to emotional spending.
Many people use shopping as a method of distraction from other problems they are facing. Others use it as a celebration, a reward for a job well done. And still others shop to fill their loneliness with possessions. This kind of emotional spending, according to Miller, is especially common among freshmen.
Miller also explained what drives people, especially college students, to shop and spend excessively. Dopamine, a chemical in the brain’s frontal lobe, causes urges, including the urge to shop. The frontal lobe is the part of the brain that controls our rational thinking. When dopamine kicks in, it overrules rational thinking, especially in college students because one’s frontal lobe is not fully developed until the age of 25, which is over the average age of a college student.
Although this chemical and the emotions that drive one to shop can be very powerful, there are ways to cope with emotional spending. One way is to just become aware of how often the urge to shop occurs by keeping a journal and use a tick-mark to denote every time an urge occurs.
“However, one of the biggest things folks can do to cope with emotional spending is just identifying the triggers,” Miller said. Writing down one’s thoughts and feelings during a shopping urge helps identify the triggers.
Another method of coping is shopping with a list because it minimizes distractions. Avoiding social shopping is yet another coping method, according to Dr. Miller.
If you believe that you are an emotional shopper and the above coping methods have not helped, the SHSU Counseling Center offers emotional spending counseling at no charge to students.