You Can't Afford Retail Therapy

Ever since I can remember, I have loved to shop. I love shopping anywhere and for anything. I was born with a super power of being able to turn even a quick gas run into an hour long "Look mom, while you were pumping gas, I bought some snacks, a magazine, and they have these little tweezers that I think would be great for..."

When I was in my senior year of high school, I worked almost 40 hours a week. No, I didn't drop out of school. I literally just went straight from school to work and closed every single weekday. On the weekends, I would work 1 day and it would be a 10 hour, sometimes longer, shift. I made $16 per hour plus tips and at the end of 1.5 years I barely had $10,000 saved. How? I lived at home, rent free, my mom paid for and cooked all my meals, I didn't have any bills or any debt. I barely had any free time because all I did was go to school and go to work. How did I manage to spend nearly 2/3 of my income? Where was all my money going?

Well, I was working in a cafe, located in a mall. So there. That's where my money was going. 

I would work, then I would shop. I would reward myself for all the hard work and long hours I was putting in. I was still tired and I was still burnt out but at least I had all these thingssss. Things I did not need in my life. Things I only felt I needed because I was tired and burnt out. 

It was a dangerous cycle. 

According to a paper written by Francine Espinoza Petersen, who digs deeper into the physiology behind "retail therapy", we essentially make better decisions when we are in a positive state of mind. She explains that when a person is feeling down, their likelihood of spending money on something they are not sure of is higher because he/she will believe this unordinary purchase may improve how they feel.

Alternatively, when we are in a positive state of mind, we tend to only purchase things we are sure we want/need. 

 So when we are in a rut, whether it be financially, emotionally, physically, how do we fight the urge to drown our sorrows in yet another pillow to add to our already over flowing couch pillow collection?  

What I found helped me, was planning ahead. Yes, plan when, where, and on what to spend your money. If I felt down or upset about something, I would go to my calendar, find the next date that I have scheduled for myself and tell myself, "Only x amount of days until guilt free fun day! "

Whether it be a date night or family night once a month, a girl's day to the spa, or a trip to the outlet mall with a cash allowance of $100, make sure you schedule it in advance and stick to the plan. This way you'll know when to expect any outgoing expenditures, what to expect you will be spending your hard earned cash on, and how much you are expecting to spend. Like I've mentioned in my previous post "How to Pop some Tags with Only $20 in your Pocket",  it's always fun to have something to look forward to and making a schedule of when, where, and how much to spend, is a good way to prevent impromptu shopping sprees that may not be in the budget or may result in a treasure trove of useless-items-you-purchased-when-you-were-sad-stressed-bored-or-hungry.

When I finally learned that spending $5 a day here and there on little things like a Starbucks coffee and treat - all because I felt "I deserved it" to get through my work day - added up to $1,300.00 a year... I knew something needed to change. A Starbucks coffee and treat in the morning did not make me less tired. It did not make me less burnt out. To give you a better frame of reference, $1,300.00 buys you a breakfast you could make at home for $0.50 everyday or it could buy you a week of this- 

Plan ahead. Think about what makes you happy. Think about what is worth it. And every time you feel that urge to buy that coffee or pillow or top that you don't need, whip out your calendar, count the days until your next planned guilt free fun day and wait. It will be worth it, I promise.


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