It’s the most wonderful time of the year—for buying gifts. And while you’re at it, you might as well buy something for yourself, right? We’ve all been there. Remember in Friends when Monica bought those super expensive leather boots on impulse? She ended up regretting it because they really hurt her feet. Womp, womp!
Listen, we all spend money in a variety of ways. We just need to keep our spending motivations in check—especially during this time of year.
So, if you find yourself indulging in some retail therapy—buying stuff to make you feel good—then I want to help. Retail therapy is normal in today’s society, but normal can make you broke pretty quick. And there’s nothing merry about that.
Four Ways To Avoid Retail Therapy
We all need to stay in control of our money, especially during the holiday season. So, here are four simple ideas to help you shop responsibly and avoid falling into the retail therapy trap:
Make—And Stick To—A Budget!
A budget gives you permission to spend. When shopping for holiday gifts, I always need to stop and remember that every item I buy for myself is a gift someone could have bought for me, instead of me buying it for myself. If you have $100 budgeted to buy gifts for everyone on your Christmas list, make sure to actually use all of it for gifts for others—not for yourself!
When shopping for others, it’s completely normal to find things you love for yourself. Window shopping can actually give your brain a surge of dopamine, which may be all you need to scratch that retail therapy itch. If you find a fantastic outfit or gorgeous accessory, add it to an online shopping cart, put it on a wish list, or even ask a store to hold the item in your name. Share your list with family and friends, and give them the opportunity to buy you the perfect gift!
Steer Clear Of Your Triggers
I can tell you from experience: It’s almost impossible to be satisfied with your own life if you’re constantly looking at what someone else has. Social media may be a trigger you need to put on pause for a few weeks. And if you know that certain stores trigger your retail therapy feelings, do your best to avoid them. Wait until after the holidays when your budget has some room for personal purchases.
Giving is the most fun you can have with money—really! And the holiday season is the perfect time to practice generosity by giving to others. There are plenty of opportunities to give to charities, buy toys for underprivileged children, or provide groceries for families in need.
You guys, holiday shopping can be so stressful! And honestly, sometimes buying a little something for yourself can ease some of that stress, right? But if shopping on impulse is a habit in your life—especially during this time of year—check out my complete guide to overcoming retail therapy. I want you to feel confident in your money decisions as you shop during this season. And I don’t want you to miss out on the joy of giving to others!
Rachel Cruze is a two-time No. 1 national bestselling author, financial expert and host of The Rachel Cruze Show. She has appeared on Good Morning America, Today and LIVE with Kelly and Ryan, among others. Since 2010, Rachel has served at Ramsey Solutions, where she teaches people how to avoid debt, budget, save money, and win with money at any stage of life. Follow Rachel on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube or online at rachelcruze.com.