Dangers of Retail Therapy
Posted 11/20/2012 12:01:00 PM

I know you have heard the term “retail therapy”. You know - shopping to make you feel better. I know there is nothing more exhilarating than me feeling down then I find a nice pair of shoes at the right price! YAY! But sometimes if you feel too down, run from the stores! You may make irrational purchases based off current feelings. This holiday season, you may have many stressors and while shopping can feel good, don’t do it to mask other issues. According to new research published in the journal Psychological Science, sadness can lead to impulsive (and irresponsible) financial choices.

Jennifer Lerner, PhD, director of the Harvard Laboratory for Decision Science is one of the study’s authors who points out, “Sadness makes people devalue future gains relative to present gains,” Lerner says. In other words, when you’re sad, you’re more focused on the now, rather than the future. You just want to be happy. You don’t care about what happens down the line. This process occurs unconsciously.” Lerner adds, “Decision makers themselves do not recognize that sadness has such effects.” Meaning: If you shop while sad, you could set yourself up for some potential wallet pain and not even know it.

How to avoid "blue shopping” on Black Friday? Vera Sizensky, Women's Health Online Editor and former Fit Bride has 4 questions to ponder:

Is it on my list?

Keep an ongoing shopping list of clothing, household items, and gifts you actually need. “The urge to impulse shop is very normal,” says Lauren Lyons Cole, certified financial planner, but if you give in too often, it can become dangerously expensive. Get in the habit of consulting your shopping list, and you’ll have fewer purchase regrets, Cole says.


Can I find a good dupe for it?

If there’s an expensive beauty or fashion product that you are really drawn to, try doing a Google search for the name of the product and the word “dupe”, which is fashion speak for look-alike, Cole says. Just to be clear, this is not a knockoff. It’s a similar-looking item that can save you some serious money. If you’re tackling this weekend’s sales, plan ahead by researching your top picks’ sale prices ahead of time while keeping an eye out for dupes.


Do I want this more than a ______ (insert big goal here, like “trip to Italy”)?

Little purchases might bring temporary satisfaction, but they can be a huge waste of your dollar bills. “Try carrying a picture of whatever your big goal is in your wallet, and when you’re tempted to impulse shop, use the picture to snap you back into reality,” Cole suggests. When you’re finally enjoying your goal purchase, you’ll be happy you skipped those impulse buys.


Is it returnable?

If you absolutely can’t talk yourself out of an impulse purchase, at least make sure it’s returnable. If you haven’t worn or used the item and the return date is near, you can be sure the purchase wasn’t meant to be. Warning: Don’t make this a habit or it’ll become seriously stressful keeping track of multiple items. Think of this as a once-in-awhile thing.


Nothing wrong with a good sale or a day in the stores. But a momentary “feel-good-purchase” may result in a less than desirable aftermath. Find coping strategies to deal with stress and/or depression. Don’t let overspending be a band-aid for inner scars that need total healing. Not trying to be dramatic but many lives are impacted by debt and that doesn't help your stress.  Janet sang "the best things in life are free" and there's a lot of truth to that.

Including freedom from financial fiascos stemming from overspending and too much retail therapy!


Posted By: Julee Jonez  

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