Shopping Makes Us Feel Good and Bad
I’m not much of a shopper, but my downstairs tenant is. Even before COVID, she was missing days from work for health reasons. Now, she’s spending most of her time home alone filling her days with online shopping. I know because I carry the 35-pound bags of cat litter upstairs for her. Occasionally, I glimpse at the shipping labels in the mounting pile of deliveries that clutter the lobby: Pam’s Pashminas, the Oil Perfumery, and SilksAreForever.
As her landlord, I’m not overly concerned. She has always paid her rent on time, and I’m confident that if she had a problem, she’d let me know in enough time to work something out. However, as a friend and neighbor, I’m wondering if she’s overdosing on retail therapy.
Shopping has always been a great way to pass the time, have fun and relieve stress, but the waste and clutter of unrestrained consumerism compounded by the anxiety over mounting credit card debt can easily outweigh its benefits. Now, as the coronavirus is mounting a double barrel assault against our will power, it’s even more difficult to curb our shopping habits.
First, with restaurants and cinemas pretty much off-limits, shopping has become our primary source of entertainment, providing escape from the stress and boredom brought on by the pandemic. People experiencing high stress have an even greater urge to splurge, because shopping (temporarily) diverts their attention from everyday woes and heightens a perceived sense of involvement and control.
Second, shopping has never been easier. Online shopping is super convenient – you can do it from home – and it’s pretty painless. You have probably noticed that parting with your money hurts a lot less when clicking on a “buy now” button than paying with cash or charging in-person.
When the pandemic started, I had about $200 in my wallet. Three months in, I still had about $200 in my wallet, which filled me with a false sense of saving gratification. Other than the grocery store and gas station, I didn’t go anywhere where I could spend money – except my bedroom. While I saved my cash, I managed to rack up over $1,000 in credit card charges every month.
Ironically yet understandably, millions of Americans, who are facing increased financial uncertainty due to COVID, are turning to shopping to feel better. While shopping may be their drug of choice, the shopping high is only temporary. The thrill of buying something new quickly fades as it blends into the furniture, and its feel-good effect can be easily overwhelmed by the dread of increasing credit card debt.
Feel Good When You Shop and Save Alot
The challenge, as I see it, is provide the health benefits of retail therapy – recreation, socialization, stress relief –without the side effects of waste, clutter and overspending. To this end, I’ve developed the Pay or Save app, which allows you to shop at your favorite online store without spending money. With consistent use, Pay or Save can even help your savings grow. Please visit our website to see how Pay or Save changes the way you spend without changing the way you shop.