First Person: I Believe in the Power of Retail Therapy

Yahoo Contributor Network

If I count the comfortable coach in my favorite department store, I guess I could say I've had the chance to sit on a therapist's couch. I am not ashamed to admit I find my mental health fix at the retail outlets. According to a new study, retail therapy is just as common as we all expected.

A recent article by Chain Store Age cited a study by Ebates.com that shows 63.9 percent of women and 39.8 percent of men participate in retail therapy. Shopping, it seems, can help a lot of people feel better after a hard day.

Another recent study by the University of Michigan's School of Business also found that retail therapy actually works. According to a recent article in DailyFinance, shopping can have psychological benefits.

I'd rather be happy

During the recession, I cut back on my spending. I was not miserable because of a job layoff or lower income. In fact, our household income actually rose during the Great Recession. I was bummed out because I avoided the malls as if they were evil. I became depressed. After I started becoming a consumer again, I felt my negative mood immediately lift.

I like to have choices

Shopping gives me the chance to take back the power in my daily life. I don't have anyone else telling me what to do. I get to decide which outfit I want to purchase. Sometimes I like making the choice to buy nothing.

I can set limits

One of the reasons retail therapy works for me is because I know how to set limits. I shop using a list. I stay within a budget that I devise ahead of time so I won't be tempted to make impulse purchase decisions. I find that I'm better able to stick with my budget if I shop alone. Shopping with other people brings the "spending peer pressure" into the equation.

I also enjoy saving

In addition to saving money by shopping sales, I put money aside for the future. It's possible to balance being a spender with being a saver. I have never understood the all-or-nothing approach to personal finances. I set up an automatic savings plan by allowing my company to take 10 percent of my paycheck for retirement. I find a lot of pleasure in putting money into our rainy-day account, although it's not as exciting as purchasing a stylish rain coat.

Another reason I am comfortable with retail therapy is because it's less expensive that actually seeing a therapist. When I shop for clothing, I tend to spend less money on other pleasures such as eating out. Because I'm less stressed, I save money on massage therapy sessions. When I don't have the money to make a purchase, I can sometimes get a lift by simply surfing the Internet for clothing, furniture and home remodeling ideas. I consider my virtual shopping experiences to be equally as uplifting even though it's the modern version of window shopping.

*Note: This was written by a Yahoo! contributor. Do you have a personal finance story that you'd like to share? Sign up with the Yahoo! Contributor Network to start publishing your own finance articles.

More from this contributor:

What We Gave up to Buy Our Dream Home

I'm Happy in our Smaller Home

Fighting Fair About Money

View Comments