Do you ever find yourself wandering into shops when you’re feeling a bit down? Maybe you had a crappy day at work or maybe your Bumble crush didn’t text you back… trust me, I get it. I’ve been there, and I’ve consoled myself with everything from a cheap fast fashion haul to a Longchamp splurge from Harrods at Heathrow T4.

Why do we feel better when we spend money?

A lot of it depends on your spending personality, but whatever psychological analysis you want to use, I’m the one that gets a big fat kick out of tapping my card. I don’t know why, but for some reason I’m in the test group that gets a big hit of dopamine when I exchange money for something. It’s because we’re anticipating some kind of reward from the item – that’s how our brain processes it, anyway.

So when you’re shopping to cheer yourself up, you’re getting a double kick of the happy chemical, because not only are you anticipating the reward of what you’ve bought, you’re anticipating feeling better.

Bam game over you’re broke.

But you don’t have to be.

How to stop shopping to cheer yourself up

One major thing that’s helped me break the happy spending cycle is my actual emotional involvement in my finances. Ever since I’ve committed to myself financially and understood where my money is going and why, I’ve done less of this cheer up shopping thing.

Why? I think it’s because I’m far more consciously aware of my financial situation. I know that if I go and blow $100 in Topshop, I’ll be $100 further away from whatever goal I’m working towards.

By connecting with your money and establishing a mindset that means you really care about how much money you’ve got in your account, you might not find the thought of going shopping quite so appealing. In fact, you’ll probably be able to connect the dots and realise that you won’t be any happier for buying something.

If you are going to shop to cheer yourself up

I know, I know, all the above is easier said than done.

The one good thing about being a cheer-up-shopper is that you know what makes you happy. So, if you can find ways of getting that shopping kick without blowing the budget, you can have the best of both worlds.

If you give yourself permission to enjoy a small treat, you’re actually making a smart choice for both your wallet and your mental health. Understanding what you can do to get yourself out of a funk is an extremely valuable quality.

So whether it’s treating yourself to a magazine, a face mask, a coffee, a bath bomb, a new notepad, or a bottle of wine, forgiving yourself for your spending weakness can go a long way.

Another option is to go and purchase something you actually do need. Sometimes the brain chemical activity from the purchase of something fairly mundane can actually do the trick. You could even stock up on household essentials, and fire up your happy hormones for both spending and productivity.

Cheer yourself up for under $20

If you are going down the small treat route, these handy ways to cheer yourself up for under $20 might help keep a smile on your face and dollars in your bank account.

Home spa night

Grab a $2 facemask, light a candle, pour some wine, have a hot bath and watch your favourite YouTubers (or Netflix show!).

Movie and wine

If you’ve got Foxtel, Apple TV or a smart TV, you’ve probably got some function that lets you rent a fairly new movie for about $6. Downloading something you haven’t seen before will perk you up and keep you out of the shopping centre for a couple of hours at least!

File and polish at the salon

Not all manicures have to be expensive. Throw it all the way back to a time before Shellac and SNS ruled our worlds. A simple file and polish usually comes in at $10-$12. You’ll be surprised how good your nails can look for a tenner!

Buy a book

Okay, so books in Australia are expensive. I hear ya. But for ~around $20, you can delve deep into a thriller, get stuck into a romance novel, or even educate yourself on something non-fiction. Ahem, personal finance.

Buy a pair of pjyamas or slippers

Okay seriously how good are pyjamas? I always want to buy them when I’m out but stop myself because I never seem to be able to keep track of the bottoms and the top. But when we’re seeking a quick thrill, a cheapo pair of PJs can be a comfy addition to your life.


No more words required. Just, cheese.

Go to the cinema

If you’re keen for the escape value of a movie but want to get out the house, treat yourself to a cinema trip. If you take your snacks and drink from home, you can usually score an afternoon or evening out for under $20.

Buy some new stationary and get planning!

I still miss the back-to-school stationery shop, and nothing’s changed as an adult. Buying a new notebook or diary still makes me feel like I can take on the world.