Overcoming Emotional Spending with Meghan Dwyer – EP 383

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Got a job promotion and want to celebrate? Stay right there! We’re going to celebrate it with you. In this episode, Jen and Jill create a space with Meghan Dwyer on emotional spending through validation and healthily working our way through it. They dive into the topics of the common triggers, managing positive emotions, and curbing negative emotional spending.

Money is emotional because it helps us feel all the things that we want in life: security, safety, being able to take care of our families, and ourselves. How we earn and spend money is emotional.


  • Friendletter. We have a weekly newsletter that we publish 3x a week, sent straight to your inbox, where we are helping you overcome all of your overspending, whether it’s emotional, impulsive, habitual, or mindless. Whatever it is, we want to help you spend better and consume less of what doesn’t matter, so you can afford more of what does. So if that is something you need help with, head over to frugalfriendspodcast.comThis newsletter is free. We share freebies and different spending hacks. We are very much getting into how to afford quality products over cheap quantity—getting swept up by sales on cheap things. That is really what we’re focusing on in the letter. It will very much help you in your spending journey.

Meghan Dwyer is a Certified Financial Planner and host of the Money Isn’t Scary podcast. After spending 15 years watching women take a passive role in the management of their money, she’s on a mission to help them stop playing small.

Common Triggers of Emotional Spending

Meghan highlights stress, discomfort, and the desire for a quick fix to feel better as common triggers of emotional spending. She relates her personal experience as a full-time working mom, noting that shopping can be a more socially acceptable coping mechanism than other options. It is prevalent in our culture and can be triggered by various emotions, such as overwhelm, sadness, fear, boredom, stress, jealousy, excitement, pride, or a desire to celebrate.

Other behavioral health conditions should also be considered, like addiction, substance abuse, ADHD, anxiety, and depression, which can predispose individuals to impulse spending. Meghan suggests that those with higher net worth may be less affected by emotional spending due to better cash flow, but she underscores that it can still be unhealthy regardless of income level.

“I deserve this!” – Managing Positive Emotions

A financial survey of 2,000 U.S. consumers revealed that 69% admit their emotions influence their spending habits. Surprisingly, the study found that Americans are more inclined to spend when in a positive mood, despite the commonly associated term “retail therapy” with emotional spending. Meghan acknowledges the cultural norm of treating oneself as a way to celebrate achievements or special occasions, emphasizing that there’s nothing inherently wrong with this behavior. 

To manage spending triggered by positive emotions, Meghan recommends considering alternative ways to celebrate, such as preparing a special dinner at home instead of dining out. Shift your perspective from immediate gratification to considering investments in your future selves. Rather than indulging in impulse purchases, she suggests thinking about how purchases align with long-term goals and personal growth.

Curbing Negative Emotional Spending

Recognize the importance of self-awareness and understanding the underlying reasons behind the impulse to spend. This involves taking the time to hop off the life treadmill, slow down, and dig deeper to identify the void or need driving the desire to spend.Drawing from her personal experience, Meghan reflects on times when she found herself resorting to online shopping to cope with stress and fill a void. She acknowledges the subsequent feelings of guilt and shame and emphasizes that the solution lies not in the purchased items but in addressing the underlying emotions and needs.

This birthed the Money Isn’t Scary podcast, which became a way for her to discuss her struggles openly, hoping to create connection and support for others experiencing similar challenges. Identify a wide range of emotions and take the time to work through them, determining how one wants to feel and exploring healthier ways to address those feelings.

Road to Self-discovery

Meghan reflects on her personal journey from relying on online shopping as a coping mechanism during challenging times, such as in 2020, when the pandemic struck and her husband lost a job. Much of her progress came from developing her self-awareness. Now, when she finds herself struggling, she consciously takes the time to pause and reflect on her emotions. Journaling has become a valuable tool for her in this process. It has allowed Meghan to develop healthier coping mechanisms and a deeper understanding of herself. This newfound self-awareness enables her to make more intentional choices about how to address her emotions without resorting to impulsive spending.

What was your last positive emotional impulse buy?

  • Meghan: intentionally, booked a trip to Florida with her family, but bought things for the trip!
  • Jill: THE PANTS!
  • Jen: Margaritaaa!

Bill of The Week

Thank you Meghan for sharing your bill about paying your last day care bill!

Thanks so Much for Listening!

Thanks so much for listening. We love love love reading your kind reviews and we especially loved this one from:

Love this

The best financial podcast, I have found. Jen and Jill keep me entertained while teaching me all the financial tips. Some of these tips I didn’t even know I needed. Thank you ladies.

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