Thursday Thread: Revenge Money
I want to talk about this "real quick" as we reemerge into a wonderful summertime bliss.
We use our money to express our emotions.
I experience it. The way I shop, purchase, save, and invest is an expression of how I feel, among other things. Usually, though, this connection is buried in the pace and complication of life. It is exceedingly difficult to notice. We vote with our wallets more poignantly than our mouths, and sometimes our use of money can tell us a whole lot more about what is really happening under the hood.
Enter Revenge Money, or Revenge Shopping, or Revenge Budgeting.
The harsh reality that everyone has faced is that the pandemic stole from us. I realize that “what” it stole is a black hole of whose grief is greater, and people lost real people, real futures, real dreams. I’d like to stick to the surface. For many of us, the pandemic also stole bits and pieces of our lifestyle.
Most of us could not travel.
Many of us grew impatient with the style or quality of our own homes (now that we were spending so much time there).
Some of us were not allowed in shopping malls or clothing stores, so we could not continue buying along with current trends. And who would want to if you could not be in public to show it all off.
And now a recovery is happening, and all that pent up money movement is being unleashed. We might candy coat the experience into “how wonderful it is to be getting back to normal.” But really, we are using our money to take back our right to…buy. We are seeking "revenge" on the pandemic and its disruption. We are taking justice into our own hands by purchasing more leisure, home improvement, and personal products than some of us ever have before.
As we look back in American history, this type of money behavior seems to always follow large, catastrophic events. At first glance it may look disgusting. But let’s not forget that money always brings out our true thoughts, feelings, and emotions. For some of us, spending money on personal enjoyment is a post-traumatic therapy. I am not a financial therapist, but I have seen retail therapy in families on a smaller, personal level, after a significant loss or transition. We must withhold the judgement and pay attention to our own habits. Everyone is in a different financial position. Hence why some label our post-pandemic trend as a "K-Shaped Recovery." Some money boomed while others busted.
And here comes the reality check. What does revenge shopping do to our financial situation?
Secretly, most new purchases require additional purchases in their aftermath. A new car requires more expensive insurance. A bigger house requires higher property taxes. A new shirt needs new pants, which needs new shoes, which needs new sunglasses. This is intrinsic expense, something we often fail to consider when swiping our card.
So, do you know how your money spending over the next year will impact you over the next 20?
Is the result in line with your desires?
Wait, what are your desires?
Because that is financial planning.
While we use money to express our emotions, we will inevitably use those emotions to drive our money decisions. It is cyclical. That is the nature of the beast. A healthy awareness of our emotions can lead to a better financial life, no doubt. But this circle is difficult to break into alone.
One of the most encouraging reasons I see people seek out a relationship with a money professional is SO simple. They just want permission.
Permission to buy this and not that.
Permission to change jobs.
Permission to sleep at night.
Permission to be content with what they have in front of them.
Some may see this as weakness. Nope. It is this honest humility that provides an antidote to our sometimes invisible revenge money habits.
Therefore, whether this post causes your pandemic-targeted anger to flare up, or causes you to rethink your spending and take a break from these revenge purchases, I hope, at the very least, we become more aware of how we use money to express our emotions.