Can Retail Therapy Ever be a Good Thing?

Actually, yes.

If you are one of the millions of people who love the hunt for a bargain, or designing or decorating a home or taking care of your body and your appearance, shopping can be an exhilarating experience.

If holding a shopping bag is your thing, then there isn’t anything wrong with finding pleasure in shopping. They key is to be intentional and responsible.

Retail therapy usually goes sideways when it’s used as a distraction from things that make us anxious. A diversion from whatever is causing problems in our life. Doing any activity to distract or numb negative feelings totally unrelated to the activity causes double for your trouble. Shopping to distract oneself from problems causes debt… and more problems.

So, how to avoid this? Let’s take a look.

Ask Yourself These 5 Questions Before You Shop

  • Am I in the right state of mind to be spending money?
  • Do I have the available income to make this purchase?
  • Will I regret this spending decision once the euphoria wears off?
  • Will I have to hide this purchase from a spouse/partner or from other people?
  • Is making this purchase a mature decision given my circumstances?

If you passes the test, feel confident about your purchase. If it doesn’t, consider waiting until you have a better command of your senses or your finances before you shop.

Pre-plan Your Shopping and Stick to It

How many times have you gone to the supermarket and left with items you didn’t need, and forgot to buy what you actually needed? It happened to me countless times. This actually applies to any shop.

One way to mitigate this is to plan ahead. Do some research and price comparisons. Budget. Make a list, and most importantly stick to it once you’re shopping.

This can be tricky at times and will require some discipline. Retailers are adept at making us buy more and, by extension, spend more. Our brain is also wired for this. The action of buying releases dopamine. Dopamine is a feel-good hormone, and we want more of it.

It still occasionally happens to me now, even though I plan ahead and make lists. If you find yourself in this position, go back to the 5 questions mentioned above.

24-hour Waiting Period

How many times have you bought something on impulse, only to regret it later on? It also happened to me countless times.

What both my wallet and myself find very helpful is to wait for 24 hours before buying something I saw online or in a store.

24 hours aren’t that long to wait and are usually sufficient to cool my head off from the emotional manipulations that marketing and advertising intentionally use to get us to buy.

Countless times, I completely forgot about the item that I thought I “needed” or “wanted” 24 hours earlier!

Give it a serious try. It will change your shopping experience. The key is to consistently repeat this rule, until it becomes a habit.

Final Word

Retail therapy doesn’t have to be a negative thing if it is intentional and responsible. Finding a great bargain, or being excited about a new decorating project, or upgrades to your home, are all great things.

Retail therapy gets a bad rap, but it does merit concern. Be aware of your habits and keep yourself in check before you spend. You’ll be glad you did when your credit card statements come in the next month. 

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s