Dangers of Retail Therapy

When you’ve suffered a terrible job interview or need consolation after an argument with your best gal pal, there’s nothing friendlier than the cool plastic of your credit card.

It’s always reliable. Always ready for use. Always available to help you get whatever it is you want, so you can feel better. Retail therapy is dangerous though right up there with eating a pint of ice cream, sniffling on the couch, while watching a chick flick.

I’m guilty of retail therapy. And lately, it’s been quite severe. In the span of two months, I quit my old job, got a new (and better!) job and moved in with my boyfriend. I was stressed with the demands of a new job and with having my boyfriend as a new roommate. So I went out and bought a $2,000 leather jacket.

I promise you, I didn’t intend on buying a crazy expensive coat. You never plan these things when you need retail therapy. You just go to the mall, pouting with oversized sunglasses to hide those dark circles and a $10 latte in hand, waiting for something to call your name.

I always thought retail therapy was free, until I got my VISA bill. Yikes. Thank goodness I had the new job to help me cover the expense of my pathetic leap for. I couldn’t carry on this way. I mean, the coat made me happy when I bought it. But when I got home, I stuck it in the back of the closet. (Because it was June and too hot to wear a coat, but I swear I’ll wear it next Fall!) But after a while, I was sad again. I wasn’t really solving my problems by making exorbitant and unnecessary purchases. Plus, I could keep buying stuff, racking up my VISA bill and then eventually stress more about how much money I’ve spent, which would bum me out more, so I’d hit the mall again. It’s a vicious cycle.

So, instead of considering retail therapy as the only resort, I now reserve it as a last one. Now I reevaluate why I’m stressed and address the issues. I organized myself at work, so I wouldn’t stress out about my overbooked calendar. I told my boyfriend how I felt about all the responsibility at home and he helped me feel better, pitching in to help where I needed it. Then, at the end of the week, I hit up the mall with a budget (like $20 or $30) and reward myself with a tiny gift, like a new blouse (don’t overlook the clearance racks!) or eye shadow. This way, I’m still able to enjoy the pleasures of shopping, but when I put my items away at home, I’m actually happy and not left with that sinking feeling.