Retail therapy isn’t real therapy

Via FIU Flickr.

Heidi Cuevas | Assistant Opinion Director

Finding a healthy way to cope with new changes can be difficult, especially when we have a lot on our plate. Even though splurging on ourselves is therapeutic, it can quickly become a harmful habit.

Retail therapy, also known as emotional spending, is when shopping is used as a resort to deal with negative emotions. This activity tends to spike during times of uncertainty or inability to handle them. But the danger depends on the emotional state you’re in. 

Now that over 200 bills are in effect that addresses education, reproductive rights, gun control and more can cause mixed emotions of fear, depression, anger and more. We also started the fall semester and new freshmen are joining us — I remember feeling scared and lost on my first day of classes.  

The unknown can be terrifying to many of us, so it’s easy to hold on to familiar habits to retain control. We’re also college students who stress with school, work, finances and balancing our lives between the three. 

If I’m not at school, I’m at work. On days I don’t work, I catch up on assignments. It feels like an endless cycle of shifting from one place to another while trying to align my schedule with friends. It’s easier for us to be attached to the things that make us happy, even for a short period. 

However, when unchecked, retail therapy could lead to financial debt — an overwhelming regret which will cause more harm than good. 

Surprisingly this affects more than young adults. A study conducted by Qualtrics on behalf of Credit Karma stated that more than half of their Gen Z and millennials respondents would rather spend money than pay for therapy.

Even though shopping has financial dangers, it shouldn’t stop you from enjoying yourself. It’s not a crime to take a moment at the mall to browse for new clothes. It’s exciting to find something you’re willing to splurge. Same goes for takeout, a night out with friends, or shopping for vacation.

Retail therapy is good when you’re careful and considerate of your budget.

Always establish a budget before you step foot in stores and have an idea of what you’re going in to buy. It can be hard to stick to a budget due to semi-annual sales or promotions that seem like a “steal.” However, financial stability is worth more.

It’s understandably hard to find a healthy way to cope with the drastic new changes in the world. But sacrificing financial stability is not the answer.


The opinions presented on this page do not represent the views of the PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

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