A shoe isn’t “just a shoe” – the trap of emotional spending

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If you’re anything like me, you will have a spending weakness for something – be it shoes, bags, makeup, watches (like my mum), cars or toys for your kids, there will be SOMETHING you can’t resist. For me its shoes. Specifically; high-heeled ones. With red soles.

Don’t get me wrong – before this, I had NEVER spent more than £50 on a pair of heels, let alone the cost the bad boys in the picture set me back (Or to be brutally honest, how much my credit card was set back). I had lusted after a pair for years, and promised myself that if I passed my horrendously difficult membership exams when I was doing obstetrics and gynaecology a few years ago, I would reward myself because I deserved them! In other words, I fell victim to emotional-spending.

Poor habits

Did I think about how I was going to pay for them? No – until the day I had them on my feet in Selfridges looking lovingly at them in the mirror. Even then, I didn’t even hesitate handing over my credit card to take them home with me.

Ah, so maybe I was savvy and paid the bill off in full the next month?


Maybe the shoes earned me points that I later wisely used on flights around the world.

Erm, again, nope.

Do you know what I did? I left it on the card to accumulate interest, paid only minimum repayments, and added to my ever-increasing debt-hole (something I have vowed never to do again). I can hear you giggling – maybe you’ve done this too? Maybe you’re STILL doing this. It might not be shoes, but paying for anything on a credit card or store card without paying it off in full every month, or at least have on a 0% interest card with a plan to pay it off before the deal ends is a sure way to keeping your finances “sick”.

The income trap

Oh but Nikki, you’re a doctor and earn loads of money, why did you get into debt? I thought this too.  I thought that because I’m a doctor, I’ll pay it off eventually because I’ll always have a good income. It’s a trap that a lot of high earners get themselves into. I have a post on this here.

Quite simply, I felt that I deserved them because I’d worked so hard. I wanted to feel rich and glamorous. I’d bought into the false assumption that because I earned a good income, I was fully capable of paying this back. Instead of looking at my current financial status and lack of savings to pay for the shoes outright (or with assets, but that’s a whole new level of discussion for another day!), I relied on my EMOTIONS to do my thinking.

“How amazing do I look in these shoes? My boyfriend will love them!”

“Everyone will be impressed”

“What outfit will look good with them?”

Emotional-spending 1. Rational thinking 0.

What about you?

Where do you do this?

Do you:

  • spend money you don’t have when going to the pub on a Saturday night, and buy everyone drinks when you know you have rent/mortgage money due soon, but do it anyway because you don’t want to feel like the tight-arse?
  • overspend at the supermarket with little indulgences just because you’re tired, don’t want to cook, or feel like treating yourself for the end of a hard week?
  • buy your partner, parents or kids presents because you’ve been working too hard and don’t see or speak to them much?

I’m not writing this to make you feel bad; I’m writing this to make you more AWARE of what you’re doing. Like emotional eating, emotional spending is disastrous for your health. Without planning your treats, you run the risk of running out of money every month, putting stuff on credit, and generally feel guilty about how little you are saving for, well, anything really!

The good news is that you are fully capable of doing something about it. Once you are aware, you can change your habits and stop resorting to emotional-spending.

Send me a comment below of some of the stupid stuff you’re done with your money!

I’m on facebook with a private group you can join to discuss all things money with me – join in here!

That’s it from me!

Until next time,




P.S. If you enjoyed this post, why not try:

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[…] Emotional spending is a hot topic at the moment. We spoke about it during one of our recent radio show sessions. […]

4 years ago

Hi Nikki,
Before I started working on my money stuff, I was a sucker for emotional spending. When I was younger, it was the ”cos I’m worth it’ rationale, on things for myself. When I became a consultant and had young children whom I either didn’t see or was too tired to enjoy their company it was on things for them to try to assuage my guilt. Since I took early retirement our household income has reduced but I make far fewer emotional purchases, because I realised that the time I spend with my family is priceless.

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