Does Your Inner Child Control Your Spending?

Ever tried budgeting your money and you start off pretty strong but then, somehow, you end up failing miserably? Maybe it was that inner voice that would say “I deserve it, I work hard!” and talked you into buying those shoes you didn’t really need. Or maybe it was that desire to finally get that truck you’ve always wanted and you think “Why not? Ain’t I the man of the house?” That may be your inner child at work!

Research by the American Psychological Association reveals a startling truth: over 60% of us buy things to chase feel-good vibes and soothe old wounds.1 Studies show people indulge in impulse buys an average of once a month, often driven by a desire for instant gratification. Your inner child might be screaming, “I want that! It’ll make me happy!”

Understanding Your Inner Child:

When I’m working with clients, I take inventory of any actions that are not making sense and often wonder “What does their inner child want?”. It’s amazing how their actions as adults can be linked to something that happened in childhood! I remember one client would buy himself luxury cars, watches, dine at fancy restaurants… until he got into debt, used up all his savings, and began having trouble in his relationship. When we dug into his spending habits, we found it was rooted in his belief that he wasn’t enough. That belief was based on a rocky relationship with his father during childhood, in which my client felt insecure, unaccepted and unloved. He never felt like he was ever good enough in his father’s eyes. This led my client to prove his success and value to the outside world with objects like fancy watches and beautiful cars.

Research published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine highlights how our childhood experiences shape our adult behaviors.2 That fancy gadget you crave? It could be your inner child yearning for the joy and fun it missed out on when it was young and couldn’t afford it. But now that your inner child holds the wallet, it will do what it wants to “make things right”.

The Big Question:

So, are you spending to make your inner child happy? Next time you reach for your card, take a mindful pause and ask yourself: Why am I buying this? Is this a necessity? Am I bored? Is this something that will prove something to the outside world about me? Is this something that will prove something to me about myself? What does my inner child really need?

Your inner child might just be craving a little TLC, not another “thing.”

This is just the beginning of your journey to understand your spending story. Explore your past, listen to your inner child, and empower yourself to make conscious choices that align with your true needs and values. Remember, you deserve happiness, but it may not have to come with a price tag.


* The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which strategies or investments may be suitable for you, consult the appropriate qualified professional prior to making a decision. Investing includes risks, including fluctuating prices and loss of principal. No strategy assures success or protects against loss.

  1. Cleveland Clinic. (2023, December 11). Why retail “therapy” Makes you feel happier. ↩︎
  2. DW;, B. (n.d.). Compulsive buying disorder: A review of the evidence. CNS spectrums. ↩︎

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