This post discusses emotional spending through the lens of financial abuse post separation.
As outlined in yesterday’s post, our emotions can influence our spending habits, leading us to make impulse purchases that we may later regret. How you feel about yourself, and your current circumstances, can directly impact your money decisions. Let’s look at this from the perspective of financially abused individuals, post separation. In this context, financial abuse is used to continue to exert control over the abused individual.
It is difficult to completely break free when there are children from the relationship. The situation can become very difficult at Christmas when you’ll be experiencing an increase in financial outgoings. So many emotions can feed into the purchases we make, such as guilt. The feeling of guilt can be heightened at Christmas when you have children. You feel guilty for no longer being a ‘regular’ family in the eyes of those around you. You feel guilty if you can’t give your children all the toys they desire. It is these emotions that an abusive ex-partner will be using to continue to exert control.
For those who have never experienced coercive control, it can be difficult to understand why someone would fall into this trap. Let’s look at the frog in the boiling water analogy! If you put a frog in boiling water, it will immediately jump out. However, if that frog was put in a pot of water that was slowly brought to the boil, it doesn’t realise what is happening and remains in the water until it dies. Individuals in coercive controlling relationships are not immediately aware of what is happening to them. It is something that occurs and intensifies over a period of time.
Coerced debt is a form of financial abuse that can also occur post separation and the risk of experiencing this is heightened at Christmas.
The pressure to purchase expensive gifts for your children at Christmas can be intense. There will be wishful thinking that the other parent will contribute to the gifts. In situations of post separation abuse, it’s not going to happen. A common tactic used post separation is financial abuse. The financially abusive individual will attempt to persuade the other parent to make purchases they cannot afford or take out loans to purchase gifts, with the promise of them contributing to the debt. In truth, they are never going to contribute to the debt.
Protect yourself by seeing the reality of the situation
It can be extremely difficult to avoid letting emotions take over. The desire to believe the other parent wants to see the children happy on Christmas morning can blur the reality of the situation. In coercive control situations, the interest lays in financially controlling the other parent, rather than making the children happy.
Remember, they are hoping you are going to lead with your emotions and make financial decisions based on this.
Put Boundaries in Place
Put boundaries in place to protect your finances. Do not take out any last-minute loans to make purchases you cannot afford to repay.
Make a budget of how much you wish to spend in advance of your Christmas shopping. You are more likely to stick within your means if you’ve planned your purchases in advance.
Talk to a counsellor to build your self-esteem and confidence to put efficient boundaries in place (It is wise to attend counselling if you’ve experienced coercive control).