How to HALT emotional overspending

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It’s Spring! A perfect time to start fresh. When trying to break a habit or start a healthy one, it can be helpful to use the acronym HALT (which stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired) to evaluate your decisions or feelings. For example, “Do I really want this entire cake, or am I just trying to distract myself from anger about my bad day?” There’s a reason they call it comfort food, after all. ?

The same approach also works for tracking your spending, which you can do for free in the MoneyLion app.

What is emotional spending?

Many people engage in what is called “emotional spending.” That is, we shop to make ourselves feel better or to suppress feelings of Hunger, Anger, Loneliness, or Tiredness (HALT). People also shop as a way to reward themselves or to fight boredom.

It all makes sense, and it’s all totally normal. Everyone deserves a little shop therapy or retail recreation now and again. The problem is when emotional spending becomes a habit and leads you into debt or prevents you from saving for the future.

Understanding your spending triggers

Many financial coaches suggest that you look though your past credit card and debit card statements and mark everything you bought while Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired with an H, A, L, or T. Try it!

This exercise can help you see where you may be overspending and figure out what is triggering your impulse buys. That way, when you’re contemplating a purchase, you can ask yourself, “Wait. Am I just buying stuff because I’m tired again?” Knowing the trigger can help you remain strong and solve the root problem long term.

Track your spending and get expert advice for free

To easily track your spending and get personalized advice on how to save more money, download the free MoneyLion mobile app. You’ll also get access to a rewards program that awards you points for healthy financial behaviors, which you can redeem for $25 gift cards to hundreds of different retailers and restaurants like Walmart, Applebees, and Apple.

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