Financial Freedom Principle #20: Emotional spending can be a train wreck waiting to happen

Imagine flying over a mountain range in a helicopter enjoying all the beautiful creation of God. In the valley below is a set of train tracks. To your shock and surprise there are two trains on the tracks; heading toward each other at a high rate of speed. You cannot communicate with the trains. You try to reach them but they are traveling too fast and you are too far away. You experience the horrible feeling of helplessness. All you can do is watch this terrible thing happen. The sad part about this scenario is – this could have been avoided with a little bit of communication and attention to detail.

The days surrounding Christmas can be days of intense emotional spending. Stores love emotional spenders. To avoid this we need to be wise and vigilant. Do you remember this important proverb from Proverbs 23:5? We have used it before. “Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away like an eagle toward heaven.”

Emotional spending can be fun and emotionally uplifting … for the moment. However, the train wreck will happen in a few weeks when the bills come due. Two personal stories are in order.

When I was a child, we loved it when mom would send us to the store with dad. Although my dad is a very frugal person, he had a weak spot – a sweet tooth. His sweet tooth along with our pleas would net us great treasure. We would come home with Circus Peanuts, Animal Crackers, and chocolate candy; none of which was on the list prepared by mom. It was the result of emotional spending and my sister and I were glad it worked.

A friend of mine used to go into temporary depression when his wife would leave town for an extended period; maybe to visit her mom and dad. To self-medicate he would buy stuff. Once he bought a new set of golf clubs. My golfer friends would say “What’s wrong with that?” Once while she was away, he bought a new car he really could not afford at the time. Wow! This particular story has a happy conclusion. Today he makes more money than the President does and he could probably buy the White House. Most of us are not so fortunate.

I will let you decide if emotional spending is a sin based upon our previous Financial Freedom principles. Stores love it when emotional spenders walk in. Dollar signs roll through their minds and they hear the sound “cha-ching.” In these days, we must be on guard for emotional spending or the financial train wreck will happen early in January. Let’s be wise and have a great Christmas.