Bust the spend cycle: How to build immunity to emotional spending

Can we really become happier by buying more stuff? In this guest post for Canstar, Money Coach Matt Hern explains how he tackles the relentless pressure to spend.
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Since it first aired in 2008, I have been a fan of the Australian TV show Gruen, in which a panel of advertising experts discusses the effectiveness of various advertising.

I love that their analysis reveals how advertisers influence us to spend our hard-earned money. One of the key techniques advertisers use is needling our insecurities that we aren’t yet good enough to be loved, to belong, to be seen as successful.

If the advertisers were right, then we’d be happier and more fulfilled using their products, and it’s fair enough to crave that. Often we’re not happier though.

One reason we’re not happier is that advertisers are encouraging us to fill the hole inside us with stuff. That only fills our homes, whilst emptying our accounts.

Another reason we’re not happier is due to ‘hedonic adaptation’, in which we get used to the increased standard of living and return to our happiness baseline.

In fact, recent research has found that buying things can actually make us unhappier. This appears to be because items can more easily be compared. And there’s always something newer or better to make us dissatisfied with what we have, so the cycle continues.

Since advertisers needle our insecurities, the best immunity is a strong sense of self and a sense of sufficiency, that ‘I am enough’ and ‘I have enough’.

The best way I have found to develop a strong sense of self is through investing in our emotional and mental wellbeing.

Given that also genuinely makes us happier and more resilient to life’s challenges, it seems to be one of the best investments we can make with our money.

If you want to get more life out of your money, consider swapping some spending from stuff to investing in your emotional and mental wellbeing.

It’s certainly one of the best investments I make.


First published on 19 January by Matt Hern and reproduced with permission.

This article was reviewed by our Digital Editor Amanda Horswill before it was published as part of our fact-checking process.

About Matt Hern

With a background of over 15 years as a financial planner, Matt now specialises as a money coach at matthern.com.au to help people get more life out of their money. As well as being a Certified Financial Planner ™, Matt also has a Graduate Diploma in Financial Planning, a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) and a Certificate in Life Coaching. 


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