Skip to Content

Get the Buzz of Retail Therapy Without Overspending

Growing up, I had a best friend whose mother wore an apron that read “When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping.” Her joie de vivre, scrolled sweetly across her chest in hot pink script, gracefully carried her around the kitchen from fridge to stove to table. Thinking back to my bestie’s mom and her not-so-surreptitious statement, I can relate.

Why retail therapy is a thing

When you buy via links on this page, I may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

Why not indulge in a little retail therapy when things get out of whack? It’s productive. It’s healing.

And let’s not forget the total sense of satiation that spending brings. Even an uninterrupted eight hours of sleep can’t compare to that! Oh, and there’s also the rush. Sure, a four-mile jog would probably provide a similar endorphin release, but there’s no gold-button swing coat at the finish! Even a girl on a budget can indulge in a little pick-me-up-purchase to set her mood right.

Woman with shopping bags, practicing retail therapy.

So go ahead and get your shopping on when the mood strikes you. The trick to keeping things manageable is not resisting the urge to shop — in my experience, that only leads to a stronger urge and a bigger purchase when you finally give in. A better approach is learning how to indulge in small ways. These money-saving strategies will help.

1. Pay it forward

So it’s been one of those days. Lost your cell phone. The dry cleaner closed before you could rescue tomorrow’s outfit. And between the kids, the television, and the barking dog, there’s enough noise to fill a stadium.

Don’t rush to the mall just yet! Figure out exactly how much you can afford to spend. Then bring cash. No credit. No debit. Just the ol’ green to get you going. Once the cash is spent, the retail therapy session has concluded. Finito. All impulse purchases are kept within budget.

2. It’s the little things

Let’s turn our attention to the little things in life that bring happiness. A friendly gesture. A shared laugh. And the perfect lipstick. I’ve got a friend who dazzles in a fuchsia lip. It doesn’t matter what she’s wearing. My attention always goes to her gorgeous smile, framed by that stunning lipstick.

When you’re feeling a bit down and out, go find your special shade that commands attention. Browse through Sephora and experiment with all that suits your fancy. When you’ve found the one, get it! Had a seriously bad day? Get a manicure, too.

3. Window-shop, then drop (the cash!)

I’m not a window-shopper. When a shiny new pair of buckle boots calls my name from a store window, there’s no room for hesitation. I’m inside that shop, said pair of boots in hand, way before the doorbell has finished its ring.

Try this strategy. Check out all the windows of your favorite stores. When a color-blocked sweater (or another fabulous find) catches your eye, get in there and try it on! If it merits real estate in your closet, ask the sales girl to hold it, please. Continue onto the next store. Repeat your fitting-room extravaganza. When the time has run out, go back and buy the one item that won’t leave your brain. If there’s more than one item, flip a coin for final selection.

4. Beg, borrow, but don’t steal

For this strategy, you get the pleasure of your friend’s company AND her closet! Go see one of the girls to find out if she’s got any hidden gems in her wardrobe that she no longer wears — or even something she’ll loan you temporarily.

Oddly enough, my posse all wear the same size (don’t even get me started onto the psychology behind this) so sharing clothes is a breeze. If your friend doesn’t wear the same size, worry not. Welcome to the world of accessories! You never know, her classic city disco clutch just may be what the doctor prescribed!