Forget Retail Therapy – Try This Instead

We’ve all been there: Days where it feels like things aren’t going your way. One negative thought then leads to another and, before you know it, you’re looking for a quick pick-me-up. I know I’ve been there and can relate to how you’re feeling. The “I deserve it” trap is all too real. You know – buying something with the justification that you deserve it because you work so hard every single day.

With the prevalence and ease of online shopping, retail therapy is easier than ever. You don’t have to leave your house, interact with anyone, and can shop in your pajamas while drinking a glass of wine (no judgement here). However, you know it’s a problem when you make an impulse online purchase and forget what you ordered only 2 days later. What if there was a better way to get that same fix that shopping gives you?

Option #1: Invest It

Try investment therapy instead. You still get to buy something and it has the added benefit of growing in value over time. No buyer’s remorse or stuff that will eventually be carted off to Goodwill or tossed in the garbage. Will you get the same kind of high as you do when shopping? Maybe not at first but over time, as you see your account balance grow, you will.

Already max out your Roth and don’t have a brokerage account? They’re super easy to open online at any discount brokerage (Vanguard, Fidelity, Schwab, etc.). Once you’re set up, buying shares of index funds couldn’t be easier to do online. I recommend a total stock market index fund or S&P 500 index fund.

If you’re wary of the stock market, stick the money in a savings account. Over time, small amounts add up and eventually you’ll get a small high seeing the balance grow higher. If you spend $10 a week on impulse purchases, that’s $520 a year. You’re far better off saving that money and then using it for purchases that actually add value to your life. Wouldn’t it feel better to use that money for a vacation or some other experience where the memories live on, long after the money has been spent?

Option #2: Donate It

If you have extra money to spend on impulse purchases, you have the means to donate that money instead. Find a cause that resonates with you and make a donation online. The organization will appreciate it and you’ll feel good helping to further a cause that you care about. Need ideas? You can read about my favorite charity or use Charity Navigator to find an organization that uses the donations in an efficient way.

The next time you’re having a rough day and looking for something to brighten it, try investment or donation therapy. Your future self with thank you.

6 thoughts on “Forget Retail Therapy – Try This Instead

  1. I would also recommend investing in yourself, too! A year or so ago I was depressed about work. My first impulse was to buy all of the shoes and chocolate in the world. But instead I bought a subscription to the Adobe Cloud, which I used to develop skills I use both for my blog and in my profession. If I feel sad and spendy, I try to invest in myself by learning a new skill.
    Mrs. Picky Pincher recently posted…What A Frugal Weekend!My Profile

    1. That’s a great point – investing in yourself now will pay off for years to come. Thanks for adding that!

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