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Retail Therapy: Men vs. Women

by J. Money on Monday, April 8, 2013

shopping bag model

Saw another interesting survey go out the door recently, this time focusing on retail therapy. And just like with the last one we blogged about (the debt between Generation X and Y), you always have to take these with a grain of salt since most are done to help sell/promote a company ;) But nonetheless they’re fun to talk about.

This one comes from the folks at eBates – a cash-back coupon site which I’m sure plenty of you know about and/or have used – who state:

“More than half (51.8%) of Americans engage in retail therapy — 63.9% of women and 39.8% of men shop to improve their Mood”

With the #1 item women tend to buy being clothes, and the #1 item for men being food. Here’s the chart with their complete findings, based on the whopping 1,000 adults they surveyed ;)
retail therapy - men vs women
Now I can’t talk for the women here ‘cuz, well, I’m not a woman (though I must say it certainly follows the stereotype!), but I can certainly speak for the guys. And I’d say it seems to be right on target, though for me it would look a little more like this:

  1. Beer
  2. Random adventures
  3. Clothes
  4. Coins

I’m not one to get overly excited about electronics or movies/games/toys, but I’d def. blow through some money on alcohol and hanging out with friends – which would then inevitably lead to random (and expensive) adventures the more we went on ;) And/or piles of coins or hoodies, haha…

Luckily though I rarely go down that route anymore ‘cuz I’m an old fart dad and I’m always hustlin’. So realistically I’d probably just go on a long walk or watch tons of House Hunters International and other addicting HGTV shows instead to calm down. All of which is not only cheaper, but I also then don’t have to explain where I’ve been for the past 24 hours a la The Hangover ;)

So that’s me anyways. Gone are the days of shopping to feel better (4 years and counting!) and I think I’m much better for it. A bit more boring, perhaps, but def. better for the wallet and new daddy lifestyle.

How about you? What do you do when you get upset about something and need a quick fix? What do you end up buying if you go shopping?? Make sure to call me up next time if you’re feeling generous – I’ll drive!

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(Photo by andrewarchy)


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{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }

1 My Financial Independence Journey April 8, 2013 at 5:54 am

If I’m going to engage in retail therapy, my picks will look something like (in order): booze, food, books, day trips (summer only), and electronics. Thankfully, I’ve managed to avoid having to engage in any particularly expensive bouts of retail therapy recently.

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2 J. Money April 8, 2013 at 11:37 am

Day trips!! YES!!! Awesome!

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3 Louise April 8, 2013 at 6:25 am

Mine is definitely clothes or food. I’m trying hard to curb both of these habits by (1) setting a clothes budget each month and (2) always having something sweet and salty to snack on when I know I’ll need it most, such as during exams at university. I really need to get my diet undercontrol though…

My partner though will buy food and games. Especially if he’s had a hard and stressful week he’ll indulge a little with a few beers and maybe a new game. He doesn’t go overboard though and waits for the games to come on sale.

Interesting survey!

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4 J. Money April 8, 2013 at 11:40 am

That’s a good idea! I used to reward myself with a fun purchase under $20 every time I took an exam actually :) Regardless if I thought I did great or bad, haha… a “way to put in your best!” type of present, if you will.

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5 Lance @ Money Life and More April 8, 2013 at 7:21 am

I’d say I really don’t participate in retail therapy too much, but I might go for food. I think we’d be more likely to go out for dinner if we were stressed and didn’t want to cook.

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6 Elvin Peria April 8, 2013 at 7:36 am

I’m not into retail therapy. I guess I’ll just sleep it off or play some computer games.

I was not surprised to see a huge gap between number 1 and 2 for the girls. I guess, they really don’t want to get fat and just shop for clothes instead. By the way, beer is considered as food right?

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7 John S @ Frugal Rules April 8, 2013 at 7:48 am

I really don’t participate in retail therapy much anymore. But, in my heyday, I could do it like no one else. Today, it’ll probably be on some new craft beer I am liking at the moment or something electronic in nature.

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8 @pfinMario April 8, 2013 at 8:00 am

If I’m upset about something, then I usually go the direct route of trying to fix whatever it is that I’m upset about. There’s no point in spending money to try to fix an unrelated problem

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9 J. Money April 8, 2013 at 11:44 am

Always easier said than done :) I think most people like to try and make themselves feel better in between solving the issue, or at least that’s what I used to do all the time…

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10 Travis @DebtChronicles April 8, 2013 at 8:26 am

Retail therapy? No thanks – I’d rather do something that brings positive benefits – I do gym therapy instead. Nothing de-stresses me more than a great workout!

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11 J. Money April 8, 2013 at 11:44 am

That’s a good idea! I like that!

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12 Tony@WeOnlyDoThisOnce April 8, 2013 at 8:27 am

My wife gets her retail therapy out at the thrift store, and she always has. I, however, barely ever did it and then went WHAMMO…Porsche…yeah.

It’s been 17 months with no retail therapy and no credit cars. All is cool in my world, J!!

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13 J. Money April 8, 2013 at 11:45 am

HAH! Oddly enough I can relate to both of you there – I go one extreme to the other too :) Glad things are well for ya!

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14 Johnny @ Our Freaking Budget April 8, 2013 at 9:03 am

I think there was a time when retail therapy was in my blood. It usually involved a trip to Border’s (RIP) where I’d pick up a CD or concert DVD. But now that those days are long gone, if my upset-ness escalates, I usually pick up my dusty Playstation controller and play some shoot-’em-up game. And then I get more upset when 13-year-olds girls (probably boys who haven’t hit puberty yet) destroy me over and over.

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15 J. Money April 8, 2013 at 11:45 am

Hahahahha…. omg that was funny.

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16 Emmy April 8, 2013 at 9:30 am

I have learned in recent years that I’ve used shopping as a coping mechanism… which is really bad. I had this one awful week last December (I feel like I emailed you about it… I can’t remember.) Well, let’s say the mall and Target really liked me that week. And lately, the Kindle and Nook stores like me too. Especially when I’m down and they have awesome sales for books I can download right onto my iPad and I don’t have to leave my couch!!!!

Yes, I realize I have a problem. I’m working on it.

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17 J. Money April 8, 2013 at 11:46 am

Better books than drugs ;) Might be a good idea to invest in some Target and Apple stock too since you’re pouring money into them! Haha…

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18 Emmy April 9, 2013 at 9:46 am

Right? It’s nearly impossible for me to walk into Target and not come out with something. And books are better than drugs… especially when I find them for under $5. :)

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19 J. Money April 9, 2013 at 8:52 pm
20 Christian L. April 8, 2013 at 9:51 am

J. Money,
I usually look for new bicycle parts. I never need them, but when I’m in a bad mood I’ll get an urge to buy something. I’ve gotten better though and can satisfy the urge sometimes by just walking around my local bike shops.

-Christian L. @ Smart Military Money

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21 J. Money April 8, 2013 at 11:47 am

Huh, that’s an interesting one. Are the parts super expensive? I know some bikes are CRAZY high end.

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22 Christian L. April 8, 2013 at 12:04 pm

Not all parts are expensive, but I’ve found I often get what I pay for. For different disciplines of riding I buy different parts, and I want them to be burly. They need to withstand a lot of intense use, which usually means a higher price tag.

-Christian L. @ Smart Military Money

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23 J. Money April 9, 2013 at 8:52 pm

Right right…. makes sense.

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24 Michelle April 8, 2013 at 10:13 am

W is big on retail therapy whereas I am not. Whenever he is feeling down, he always feels that new clothes will make him feel better :)

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25 J. Money April 8, 2013 at 11:47 am

I tend to agree with him :) Though I only buy stuff on sale so sometimes that in itself stops me in my tracks!

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26 Financial Black Sheep April 8, 2013 at 10:47 am

I exercise usually by running or biking. I then proceed to research and learn everything I can about what is bugging me. That way I have more than one solution to a problem that seems unfixable or at least broken. There are no quick fixes in life, only temporary distractions.

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27 J. Money April 8, 2013 at 11:49 am

“There are no quick fixes in life, only temporary distractions.” – preach on, sista!

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28 Trinnie April 8, 2013 at 10:52 am

If I’m going to engage in retail therapy, it’s makeup, makeup, makeup. Usually, a nailpolish or some sort of lipstick/lip gloss–which means my makeup collection is kinda ridiculous. I try to spend no more than like $30 when I divulge, which isn’t too bad, considering.

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29 J. Money April 8, 2013 at 11:48 am

Yeah that’s not that in the grand scheme of things… but man, nail polish or lipstick costing $30?? I’m so glad I’m not a girl! :)

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30 Akiyo @KitchenPenguin April 8, 2013 at 11:50 am

Me wander around Wegmans or Restaurant Depot when I’m bored and/or avoiding something? *shifty eyes*

By frequency and cost:
1) Food (stocking up the pantry and freezer above and beyond my shopping list or escaping my office)
2) Kitchen Stuff (some women collect clothes and shoes, I collect catering supplies)
3) Gifts (I don’t like to “buy for myself” but I’ll happily spend all year shopping for the perfect gift for my friends)

The grocery bill has been a little high lately so I’m going back to my tactics from when I dug myself out of debt; pay in cash and shop at Aldi’s.

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31 J. Money April 9, 2013 at 8:53 pm

catering supplies?? haha… nice.

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32 maria@moneyprinciple April 8, 2013 at 12:58 pm

Interesting study and it is probably right for most women. However…
….where are the pens and fancy notebooks (most women like getting those and I am no exception);

Apart from that I seem to be closer to the men profile – food and electronics; oh, and jewellery :); and shoes…oh dear!

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33 J. Money April 9, 2013 at 8:54 pm

I LOVE me some pens and notebooks!! Always keep an extra fine Pilot pen on me at all times – currently a blue one :)

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34 Fleamarket monger April 8, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Gold,silver, coins, rocks, and vacations.

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35 J. Money April 9, 2013 at 8:55 pm

HEY!!! I know you! There can’t be too many people obsessed with both coins AND rocks who read my blog ;)

Good trade we did over the weekend btw, I’ll be blogging about it soon.

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36 tentaculistic April 8, 2013 at 1:11 pm

I struggle with retail therapy, and comfort eating. I’m currently on a 2-month “anti-consumerism” fast – the big ones are no shopping for fun or impulse purchases (especially of food or snacks). I can shop for necessities (and things like chocolate and wine are ok, in reasonable amounts, so long as I get them at the grocery store), and can go out to dinner occasionally (but buying something modest, not the “delight all the senses” options). That said, I definitely went on an online “shopping” jag this weekend, where I looked and filled carts, but didn’t buy anything. Shoo, I do love looking at pretty things! This anti-consumerism fast will be really good for me, I think, to help me get out of the online shopping habit.

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37 J. Money April 9, 2013 at 8:57 pm

Yeah it will! And *excellent* idea with the filling up of carts too but not checking out :) That’s probably hard as hell to do for you, but breaking the habit and getting used to a better one can do wonders! I fasted on the same stuff for 40 days about 5 years ago and I haven’t been the same since :) Figured it’s saved me at *least* $200 a month, if not more. And a ton of time too.

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38 Nick @ AYoungPro.com April 8, 2013 at 2:36 pm

I’m sure this won’t come as a shock to you J, but number one on my retail therapy list is video games. :)

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39 J. Money April 9, 2013 at 8:57 pm

You? Get out of town ;)

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40 Shafi April 8, 2013 at 2:55 pm

I personal shop at thrifty stores. I shop for grocery in a store that is considered the least expensive in the area.

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41 Jacob Erickson April 8, 2013 at 4:52 pm

I really don’t do retail therapy at all. My personal therapy is watching sports (sometimes that makes me even more angry), playing videogames and working out. I normally do one of these three things depending on the time of day when I get mad. Luckily (for me and my checkbook) I’ve never been one to love shopping.

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42 J. Money April 9, 2013 at 8:58 pm

Haha I know what you mean with the sports possibly making it worse :)

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43 J Wolf April 8, 2013 at 5:51 pm

Hmmm… my top five-ish

1) Used to be clothing, but I refuse to buy any more until I lose at least 30 of these extra lbs. …and then I can just start wearing the things that STILL have the tags on them that I bought before I quit smoking (6 long years ago).
2) FROGS!! Not real ones, and not any… They’ve gotta be cool or unique.
3) Movies …and I know this is DUMB, so I’m trying to stop. I know that I usually only watch them once, I’m running out of room, it’s adding to the clutter, etc., etc., etc. …but it’s really a hard habit to break.
4) Things for other people. I remember what people collect, or things they’ve said they like and I’m compelled to get stuff for them if I see it. Good Lord, J Money… I’m even seeing coins, thinking “I bet J Money would like that”.

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44 J. Money April 9, 2013 at 9:00 pm

Well don’t be shy, start sending them over! Haha…

Now you know I’m gonna be thinking of YOU every time I see some slick looking frogs going forward, right? I do hit like 100 yard sales or flea markets a week during the Summer so I’m bound to come across some good ones :)

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45 Manette @ Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance April 8, 2013 at 7:30 pm

When I’m upset, I prefer to go on a day trip and EAT!!! I don’t buy anything and take it home because it would only remind me the day and the reason why I got upset.

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46 Glen @ Monster Piggy Bank April 8, 2013 at 10:18 pm

I don’t get upset all that often, but when I do I would normally spend money on going out with friends to movies, sporting events and bars. I’m not really much for buying stuff to clutter up the house.

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47 Mike April 8, 2013 at 10:33 pm

Retail therapy may be good for men and women. Your table says men opt for food followed by electronics. This is definitely makes a lot of sense.

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48 Matt @ My Coin Blog April 8, 2013 at 11:30 pm

Coins! Whoopty whoop!

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49 J. Money April 9, 2013 at 9:01 pm

I’m about to do a fun deal with one too this week :) And I’m far from being mad! Haha…

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50 Budget and the Beach April 8, 2013 at 11:47 pm

For me it’s going out to have a glass of wine and dinner. I also might spend some money on beauty type products.

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51 Canadianbudgetbinder April 9, 2013 at 1:20 am

If I’m in a mood which is rare the last place I will be is shopping and spending money. I can certainly see having a beer , listening to some tunes, and writing. I’m simple that way I guess.

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52 J. Money April 9, 2013 at 9:02 pm

Never thought about writing to feel better, I like that… Especially in terms of ranting and/or good blog topic ideas if it’s happening to do with money! :)

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53 Mary Anne @ BillGuard April 9, 2013 at 3:02 pm

I agree with Travis’ sentiment: I think that “gym therapy” (de-stressing through exercise) is much more beneficial, and also much cheaper, than “retail therapy.” In fact, sometimes shopping stresses me out MORE because I know how much money I’ve spent, and I know that I might regret it. But I’ll never regret working out!

That said, a great dinner is always a nice way to relax. And yes, that costs some money, even if you cook at home, but food is one of life’s great joys.

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