Let's face it: shopping is fun. In fact, in a national shopping survey, 96% of adults said they participate in retail therapy – shopping specifically to have fun, lift their spirits and improve mood.
In times of stress or uncertainty, it's relaxing to choose where to shop and what to buy. When we consider buying an item, our brains sense a reward is coming and release a chemical called dopamine, which elicits feelings of pleasure and happiness. When there's an added benefit—like a sale—we may get an even bigger dopamine rush, commonly known as “shopper's high." While there's nothing wrong with shopping for fun, it can leave us with buyer's remorse if we break the budget with retail therapy.
Next time you're feeling down, skip the retail therapy and save better with these better self-care options.
Talk to someone
If you're feeling sad, anxious, frustrated or bored, your first inclination may be to indulge in a pick-me-up, whether it's a new outfit, a special meal or another item you've had your eye on. While instant gratification can make you feel better in the short term, emotional shopping might get you into trouble. Instead of heading to the mall, pick up the phone and call a friend to talk about what's bothering you. You may find that a long chat is just what you needed!
Online shopping makes it quick and easy to purchase just about anything you could want with just a few clicks. However, it can also make impulse buying a major temptation, especially when you're feeling down. To avoid overspending online, try taking a digital detox. Put away your computer or phone, or use a website blocker to prevent yourself from accessing online retail websites. Instead of going online, take a nature walk, hit the gym, journal or read a good book. Stepping away from all the screens is not only good for your health, but it can be good for your wallet, too!
Cross off some items on your to-do list
If you sense the urge to splurge, try doing something on your to-do list rather than filling a shopping cart. Completing household chores—especially those you've been putting off—is a productive way to clear your mind and relieve stress.
“Shop" in your own closet
Many times, we buy new clothing without considering the great pieces we already have in our closets but never wear. Before purchasing something new, try shopping in your own closet first! Take some time to organize your closet. You might find new and interesting outfit combinations that make your wardrobe feel like brand new!
Go window shopping
Window shopping can be a fun way to browse your favorite stores without spending any money. While you window shop, take photos or make a list of the items you want to buy. Doing this will help you plan your purchases and avoid overspending on impulse buys.
You can still enjoy shopping without the regret that often comes with retail therapy. Instead of spending your hard-earned money on impulse purchases that only bring you temporary joy, carefully research the items you want to buy and plan for them in your monthly budget. When you shop with a plan, it's easier to avoid overspending and stay on track with your long term financial goals.
Ready for more great budgeting tips? Visit Wright-Patt Credit Union's online Education Center for free tools and resources. You can also sit down with certified financial counselors from our trusted partners at GreenPath Financial Wellness. Counselors are available to meet with you on-site at many of our locations. Click here to learn more and schedule an appointment.