Cheap retail therapy

Photo by Steve Snodgrass

When money is causing you a headache, the last thing you should do, according to everyone, is outfit yourself with a new line of spring running gear. My compromise is to indulge my inner prodigal demon at the grocery store or the thrift store.

Running up an $80 grocery bill isn’t exactly thrifty, but spending $80 on food, including a number of nonperishable condiments and the like, is bound to be better for you than buying something you don’t need just for the rush of a new acquisition. And then you can come home and cook everything you find on Pinterest—which means three more days to focus on easily completed tasks to bolster a weary and anxious mind.  The end result is a pantry, a fridge, and a freezer full of food that can be prepared or just reheated at a moment’s notice, deterring you from the expense and hidden calories of eating out. When I’m budgeting everywhere else, I can get excited about splurging on Herbamare or a variety of beans I’ve never tried before without the guilt of having bought something with sequins that I’ll only wear once.

The thrift store is another good alternative for me, as long as I keep my thrift store shopping tips in mind and only buy items that are in good condition and have an immediate and obvious use. You have to kill a couple of hours in a good thrift store to make sure that you’ve found all the treasures. And spending the afternoon sorting through clothes, books, and kitchen goodies, you might only spend $20 for the satisfaction of not contributing the manufacture of excess trash.

Ideally, I’d be more composed and less inclined to mindless spending to soothe the savage beast. However, ten years ago, I was racking up thousands of dollars in credit card debt in an effort to buy myself into the person I wanted to be, so if I’ve cultivated a taste for even muted indulgences, I’ll count it as progress. What do you do when your inner brat wants a quick fix?

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