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Retail Therapy: Shopping Without Going Broke

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    Retail Therapy: Shopping Without Going Broke

    By Janice Wee

    Whenever I feel really down, I would go shopping. Retail therapy is one of my favourite ways to destress. The lure of the hunt. For that something that catches your eye, priced unbelievably low, or at such a huge discount. 70% discounts at stores often turn normally lady like women into wild beasts. Everyone grabbing for that last piece from a coveted designer must have, priced at 70%, or even 90% the normal price.

    It always works for me.. initially. As long as I can still make ends meet after these binges. I just love the thrill of buying things, and knowing that I got them at below the regular retail prices.

    Leave me alone in a mall for 10 minutes, even with 2 preschool kids, I guarantee you. I'd be carrying bags of shopping, kids in tow, when you get back.

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    There is the thrill of the hunt. Going to a sale, not knowing what fantastic buy you might spot. Then you see it. That coveted designer brand normally beyond your budget, suddenly priced low enough for you to comfortably afford. You try it on. You love the way it looks on you. You buy it. That sense of satisfaction is indescribable. You move on to the next store. That high lasts until you see your credit card bill.

    Worse still, those outfits you buy may be worn once or not at all, before you give them away.

    It is something like going on an eating binge. You diet for ages trying to lose weight. Then suddenly, you just throw caution to the winds. You eat like a pig, gobbling down all the yummy, calorie laden desserts, snacks and favourite foods you have deprived yourself after so long.

    Retail therapy, uncontrolled, can leave you broke. Especially with easy access to credit cards, you can chalk up a major debt if you are not careful.

    Still, like calorie laden desserts, you can still indulge in retail therapy and stay within your budget.

    Like eating less or even skipping a meal after you binge at a grand buffet, and eating less in the following days after it, you can indulge in retail therapy, if you spend less in the days after it.

    There are things you have to buy anyway. Why not focus your retail therapy on what you actually need.

    Make a list of the things you actually need.

    Do you need a brand new jacket for work, to create a better impression in the board room? You could use your next retail therapy session to hunt down that ideal jacket when you need that boost.

    You could even have your retail therapy in your favourite supermarket, buying the food you and your family actually need, sourcing out the deals. Again, make a list of what you actually need and stick to that list when you go shopping.

    Or if you spot a gorgeous luxury item like a very expensive bag, you might want to save up for months first before you actually splurge on it. By the time you have saved enough money to buy the bag, you might even have lost interest and could put the money to better use.

    The trick here is to spend only what you have. Credit cards give you the illusion you have far more money to spend than you actually have. Buy now pay later is a very dangerous way to think. Many people have ended up bankrupt after that.

    Yes, you could always use that card to pay for whatever you want, and then pay the credit card bill in installments for the next few months. Meanwhile, the credit card company gets to make money off you in the interest charges which could be as high as 24% per annum (2% per month adds up to a lot in the long run).

    Can't pay the bill in full? Roll it over to the next month. Get another card to pay off some the debt in the old card and more spending power.

    Before you know it, your debt is so high, you can't imagine how you could possibly clear away all that debt.

    Personally, I am a webmaster with a sometimes uncontrollable urge to splurge. I would usually buy something whenever I step out of my home. Nowadays, I tell myself to hold off the purchase. I can get a better deal on the web.

    Retail therapy extends online too. Online stores can offer even better deals than your usual retail store. The brick and motar retails stores have to pay rent for all that shopping space. Online stores have far less overheads and can afford to pass their savings to us. Their customers.

    Every now and then, online stores would have discounts of some items, or short term promotions where you can save a substantial amount of money off your order. Some stores even have coupons which you enter into a box when you check out, for free shipping or a certain percentage savings off your purchase. Take your time to make use of these savings and get the most of your online shopping experience. I love buying jewelry online for gifts and I always do it online.

    The best part about online stores is that you can take your time to shop, without some pesky sales person trying to pressure you into buying something you really don't need. Ok, some store have pesky live help pop up windows, but you can always close those windows so you can shop in peace.

    *****************************
    Janice Wee is the webmaster of <A HREF="http://www.womanht.com/discounts/">womanht.com</A> which features items that are currently priced below retail prices. It is also provides coupons to use for savings in a number of online stores.
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