12 Rewarding Alternatives to Retail Therapy

There’s nothing quite like the rush of getting something new, especially if it’s something you’ve wanted for a while. In today’s economy, many people are suffering and dealing with financial issues that they’ve never had to face before. In an effort to lift up their spirits, retail therapy has become the new chocolate. It’s almost as if as a nation we’ve begun to think if we don’t spend it while we have it, we might never get the chance again.
The upside of this is that there is a solution, and it doesn’t always mean cutting out shopping. If you’re in the process of building your credit or paying off debtors, you still need to feel like you’re able to “buy” things without putting a damper or another black mark on your finances. That means paying a little more attention to how and why you buy and trying different ways to get that “new” feeling without having to make a purchase.
To help get you started, we’ve compiled a list of ten alternatives to retail therapy. Our goal is to provide you with alternatives that not only feel good, but are also light on your wallet.
Breaking The Habit by Staying Home
What has made us into a commerce society? Often, one turns to shopping just because it’s something to do, and for others it’s become a habit – simply a part of their lifestyle. To help break the habit, consider these alternatives:
Night Out at Home
Instead of going out to dinner or out to enjoy the nightlife, consider staying in with friends instead. A party or get-together is significantly cheaper and more rewarding experience than going out. Have everyone bring something to contribute and enjoy your time together.
Movie Night
With Netflix and Redbox, home entertainment has never been cheaper. Get together once a week to watch a TV series on Netflix or make it a movie night with $1 movie rentals from Redbox.
Game Night
Whether your cup of tea is board games or video games, getting together for a little friendly competition is always an inexpensive night out. This works great in a group or for couples as a date night. You can make it a weekly night out by switching up genres or games each time you get together, and by having a different person or couple host each week.
Host a Make Your Own (Something) Night
Instead of taking expensive cooking or hobby classes, considering taking a stab at learning something new with a group of friends. Break down the cost of all the materials needed and split the expense between everyone attending. Have someone designated as the “guide” for the night and have fun trying something new in a comfortable environment.
Going Out On A Budget
When it comes to going out, expenses can add up quickly. Avoid overpriced escapes with these economic alternatives.
Going Natural
Nature is a beautiful and free commodity that we can always take advantage of. Go for a hike, go on a photography walk or just enjoy the sunset. Picnics in the park, frisbee golf and bird watching are also excellent examples of using Mother Earth’s resources to create fulfilling experiences. If you’re feeling up to a longer excursion, consider camping as a great alternative
to a hotel getaway.
Get Physical
Many forms of exercise are inexpensive and entertaining ways to spend time. Get in shape and have fun doing it with activities like enjoying a bike ride, roller blading by the beach or lake, scenic walks or playing sports with friends.
Local Events
Many cities have free local events that offer a nice entertainment alternative. It’s a good way to support your local community and have a great time meeting people in your area or just getting out to enjoy something new.
Community-Based Stores
With the economy on a downward trend and the increased competition of discount stores, local retail stores have had to turn to new methods to attract customers. One trend is hosting in-store events. Local wine or gourmet shops hold free (or nominally priced) wine or food tasting events. Bookstores have readings and author meetups. Game stores hold game nights and tournaments. Home improvement and craft/hobby stores hold free (or nominally priced) lessons. Call around or visit your local stores’ websites to find out what events might be occurring.
Purchasing Power
When there’s no way around it and you absolutely need to go shopping, consider these tips to avoiding overspending.
Trade In for Something New
Many stores that sell used products will buy your used items for store credit or sometimes even cash. Clean up some extra space in your place and trade up for something new by going through your older items. Books, music and games are all excellent trade-in items. You can also use services such as eBay to do this as well, only using the money you make from selling items to purchase newer ones.
Buy Used
Save the environment and your pocketbook at the same time by buying used. The items may not have that fresh new feel, but they are definitely a lot cheaper, and most used stores and thrift stores have fairly good standards in what they accept. This is an excellent option for clothing, books, children’s toys and furniture, exercise equipment and home decor.
Set A Budget & Stick To It
The biggest problem with shopping is the tendency to overspend. If you only bring the exact amount of cash you desire to spend with you, all temptation to pick up that extra item at the check stand is removed.
Use the Barter System
Sometimes, focusing on how to get money to get what you want is the wrong way to go about things. If you open yourself up to new possibilities, there could be quite a few alternative ways to get what you really want. In many cases, you might be able to swap services with someone to get what it is you need. Maybe you need your lawn mowed weekly. Perhaps that person needs a service you can offer in exchange. Never be afraid to think outside the box or to just ask someone for another solution. They are probably in the same situation as you and would welcome an alternative to getting what they want as well.
Remember, that the focus isn’t always on finding the cheapest or most inexpensive way of doing something. It’s about finding the richest experience for yourself at a smart expense. Think about your own lifestyle and what makes you happiest. Now, search for creative ways to keep those experiences while paying less to have them.