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  • Writer's pictureJane Rubin

Retail Therapy - What to do?

Updated: Mar 8, 2023


One of the biggest changes in retirement comes with reshuffling spending priorities. Most of us who enjoy the shopping and buying experience feel the blow! I immediately cut myself off from clothes shopping, but see an increase in groceries as we shift to more meal prep at home. I am finding this all very confusing!


One of my first post-work commitments was to place my house, starting with my closet(s), on a strict diet. After 30 years of acquisition, the build-up is akin to a George Carlin routine on “STUFF”. Except for a few isolated attempts to clean out rooms like the basement (initiated by the kids to make room for a playroom for their kids), thinning our possessions had been artfully avoided. Now that I’ve started the grueling process, I am embarrassed at how much crap we/I (mostly me) have bought over the last 30 years. Recently, I brought 50+ work garments to a consignment store and that barely dented my closet – that is just Load #1. I figure based on the value paid for each item, I had laid out $7,000 or more for those clothes and coats. I doubt I will get much back, even if they are all sold. At least, the unsold clothing goes directly to the Women’s Shelter in town. My wardrobe had expanded into four closets– one large closet for in-season, two for out of season and one for fancy stuff. I’m shooting to get half of that out before the spring. If it weren’t so absurd, I would be too embarrassed to share. Sound familiar? Or is it just me?


So then how do I explain why I still have that magnetic pull to the mall. Sure, I can justify it by the added ‘steps’ because exercise is now a top priority and the outdoor exercise just isn’t happening, but I don’t really think that is why I like to go. The visual stimulation is fun and sparks lots of ideas (many for more spending), but I’m not sure that’s the reason either. If I met friends there for lunch it might make sense, but that is not typically where we meet. I think it’s about the retail therapy habit and its power to combat stress. Coming home with new things used to give me a nice lift.

So now what? The stress in my life is noticeably less, but my mouth still says ‘yes’ while my brain says, ‘no’. It is somewhat amusing to me, but I must shift gears. Here are my ideas:

  1. A credit card cap per month – with online bank accounts, this is quite easy to track. I have never disciplined myself to have one before so perhaps….

  2. Go pre-credit card era and pay in cash/check (what’s that?). It has been a lifetime ago that we paid for things that way. Remember the pre-credit card era? Money sure felt more tangible in those days.

  3. Put things on hold, take that walk around the mall and reconsider during that time. Do I “need’ it? Will I wear it?

Oh, heck, this is getting stressful – maybe I’ll slip over to the mall for some exercise (check out the holiday sales), and think about it some more! Any ideas? Help!



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