Tips For Ensuring You Don't Bankrupt Yourself After A Breakup (Retail Therapy Only Goes So Far)

A major life change like grieving a breakup can leave us feeling off-kilter and disoriented — even if it was for the best. A period of adjustment is both inevitable and healthy as we get to know ourselves again beyond the definition of a relationship. You may be feeling the urge to redefine yourself and upgrade your identity, from your wardrobe and your home décor to the places you frequent and the social circles you hold.

Sometimes, making these changes post-relationship can do a number on your wallet — particularly if you're moving into a new place, tapping into the urge for a makeover, or booking a solo trip to a city you've never been to before. And while some of these expenditures are totally valid and necessary, it's wise to make sure you're moving in the direction of your wholeness, rather than distracting yourself for too long from embracing the new chapter in your life. If you're in the rebirth phase post-breakup and want to make sure you sidestep bankrupting yourself, you can avoid doing too much damage to your bank account by monitoring your splurging, creating a budget, and taking care of yourself in other ways besides retail therapy. 

Allow yourself to splurge on some healthy comforts (within reason)

While retail therapy can feel like a very real fix, it's a temporary bandage and the good vibes will only last so long. However, in moderation, shopping can be therapeutic, according to Psychology Today. So, if a trip to the mall or a virtual shopping spree is something you feel could give you the therapeutic mood boost you're after, go ahead. Just make sure you aren't putting yourself in a more stressful position by spending more than you should.

In some situations, shopping will be required post-breakup as you may have let go of the bed or the blender in the separating of belongings. Choosing replacements that suit your tastes perfectly — rather than compromising with a partner — can also invoke a sense of empowerment. New bedding to symbolize a fresh start or brand new silverware that you haven't used to dine with your ex can be symbolic of your new beginning.

Create a budget for solo living

It's likely your finances will shift after a breakup, especially if you were living together, sharing cars, or had a joint bank account. Creating a new spending plan for your new chapter will likely be necessary, and can also be a lot of fun. Expenditures you may have had to compromise on in the past are now totally up to you. But again, be sure you're making the wise financial move. "... no matter how the breakdown of a relationship occurs, there is a period of adjustment and change. A budget is one area where it is possible to take control. This can be an empowering experience," financial advisor at Black Swan Capital Jessica Lyons told Cosmopolitan.

Whether you opt to use a budgeting app or just a notepad you keep in your purse, try framing the experience in your mind as a fun, new milestone in your individual empowerment; becoming a more mindful shopper can go a long way. 

Make sure you're emotionally processing

While some expenditures — both necessary and not — are to be expected, it's vitally important that you're tending to your deeper feelings during this time and maintaining a practice of wellness rather than focusing primarily on your new look, new wardrobe, or new apartment. If navigating your emotional field with a trusted friend feels right, then don't hesitate to reach out to your loved ones. Sometimes a coffee or lunch date with a dear friend can shift the trajectory of your day and mindset completely.

If talking with a professional therapist feels like the right move, then explore the options available near you and take the time to process what you're going through and carve out your new road. Journaling throughout the breakup process and particularly in between therapy appointments to keep your stream of consciousness on a positive path can be a game changer. As they say, energy flows where attention goes.

Find cost-effective ways to cheer yourself up

Since retail therapy following a breakup often stems from the desire to shed old skin and foster change, you can also enact changes in your life that don't cost a thing. Give your closet a spring clean, cut your hair into an Italian bob, or start volunteering somewhere new to make your life feel exciting and fresh again. Otherwise, simple mood-boosters can also fill the void.

Sometimes, something as simple as perfecting a new makeup technique or setting up an intentional, cozy movie night for yourself at home can cause an impactful vibrational ripple in how you're feeling about your day. It doesn't have to be grand or expensive to get the energy moving the way you want it to, and you'll likely feel much better knowing your finances are in balance.

Other cost-free sources of happiness like sunshine, walking, movement, new simple experiences, calling up a friend, performing a random act of kindness, or a good home-cooked meal can also fill in the spaces (via Healthline). And hey, if window shopping or filling a virtual shopping cart with all of your desired outfits and accessories scratches a spending itch for you, then there's no harm in doing just that.

Practice mindset shifts

Filtering out the unhelpful thoughts that no longer serve you can be quite freeing. Practice mindfulness by simply paying attention to the reels playing in your mind and asking if they're true, or if there's a different story you'd like to focus on that might be more valid (via Headspace). Ignoring or escaping the feelings that come up isn't a wise route, but viewing them from a centered place of detachment can help greatly. If you notice your mind is starting to tell you that relationships just aren't your thing or you won't find love again, pause and make a shift. Let the negative thought slip away and choose one that feels better, so you won't have to numb those tough emotions with spending. Let your heart sit there with those positives while you sift through the feelings about your breakup, and of course, stay mindful of opening your wallet.

While mindfulness can help to protect your mental health, it can also help you to stop over-spending. Be mindful of every purchase you make, and ask yourself whether you really need what you're buying. Also pay attention to how each purchase makes you feel before and after, so you can identify and stop shopping patterns that really aren't helping you at all.