• Erica Blake

Can Retail Therapy Ever be a Good Thing?


“Because when I shop, the world gets better.”- Diary of a Shopaholic


Retail therapy is the term used to describe shopping as a distraction from things that make us anxious. A diversion from whatever is causing problems in life. Sounds sort of fun and sort of dangerous, doesn’t it?


It is.


Doing any activity to distract or numb negative feelings totally unrelated to the activity causes double for your trouble. The term eating your feelings comes to mind. Eating the wrong foods to stop anxiety causes weight gain… and more anxiety. Shopping to distract oneself from problems causes debt... and more problems.


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 your body, shopping can be an exhilarating experience. If holding a shopping bag is your bag, then there isn’t anything wrong with finding pleasure in shopping. They key is to be intentional and responsible with your habit, umm… your shopping.


Here’s how:


Never shop out of impulse

Pre-plan your shopping, including making lists, and stick to them

Never shop when you are emotionally unstable

Set your budget and stick to it

Make yourself accountable to someone so you don’t overspend


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. Stay within your budget and make sure you create a monthly budget that includes money for incidentals and projects, so you aren’t taking from your operating budget. Enjoy your time shopping and avoid the anxiety and stress of shopping under the wrong pretenses.


Ask yourself these questions before you shop:


Q? Am I in the right state of mind to be spending money?

Q? Do I have the available income to make this purchase?

Q? Will I regret this spending decision once the euphoria wears off?

Q? Will I have to hide this purchase from a significant other?

Q? Is making this purchase a mature decision given my circumstances?


If your spending 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.


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 the credit card statements come in the next month.


This content was created by Piggy Makes Bank and presented by Mountain Flower Investments & Planning.

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