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Pause before you spend.

Retail therapy. It's an interesting concept.

On the one hand, shopping can feel so great in the moment, but the effects of buyer's remorse can leave you questioning a particular item for seasons to come ... Remember velour tracksuits? No? Good. And after over a year-and-a-half of limited shopping opportunities, it's no wonder people are reaching into their wallets for a little exercise in "revenge spending."

In the first quarter of 2021, Canadian household savings were over 10% higher than the pre-pandemic rate from the fourth quarter of 2019. When there’s extra cash to spend, it can be easy to get excited about using some of that money on a long-awaited, in-person shopping trip. But (always a but), overspending comes at a cost. Below, we share some tips to help you take a pause before reaching for your credit card or hopping in your car to head to the mall.

1. Invest in experiences.

Memorable moments can often provide more satisfaction than things. Try exploring a nearby hiking trail or taking the family to a park outside of your neighbourhood. And, if you have some room in your budget for a local trip, you may find the jaunt to be more rewarding than a new set of headphones.

2. Embrace what’s in front of you.

You may be able to curb the need to shop by focusing on the things you already have. Try falling in love with old favourites by throwing on those fancy shoes you’ve been saving for a special occasion (no shame in running errands in style). But more importantly, reach out to old friends if you can. Reconnecting with the people who bring you joy is an investment in yourself.

3. Build a budget.

As restrictions began to relax in the spring, you may have found yourself in a different financial situation — perhaps you were or are recovering from some financial hardship. Building a budget can help you create a financial roadmap toward short- and long-term goals, while giving you a visual sense of where your money is going.

4. Set your spending limits.

It’s probably no surprise that we recommend using your credit card to manage your spending. But the reason? Unlike cash or debit, a credit card can help you build your credit score with responsible use, and you can view your transactions in one place. If you’re a Capital One customer, you can set up customizable alerts that notify you when your balance exceeds a specific limit that you’ve set.

5. Think about it.

This is an important one. If you find yourself in a store unable to put down a particular item despite your concerns about overspending, our Brand Strategist suggests this helpful tip:

"I’m an underthinker when it comes to splurging, so I have a “shopping buddy” who’s only a text message away. If I’m shopping for clothes, I try to think of at least three different outfits I could wear with the item I’m considering. Then I send a pic of the item to my shopping buddy who offers their objective opinion on whether or not I should buy it. Same goes for anything else. They’re not afraid to tell me that an item isn’t worth the splurge.”

We all deserve to treat ourselves every once in a while. And we shouldn’t feel bad about that. But by incorporating thoughtful spending habits into our daily lives, we can find ways to celebrate positive things without having to pay for them over an extended period of time.