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Survey: Retail therapy buys away blues

Have you ever hit the mall with friends after a bad breakup? Or bought a TV after a rough patch at the office?

It’s long been debated whether retail therapy works. Does shopping make you feel better? Apparently to more than half of Americans, it does.

An Ebates.com survey last month revealed that 51.8 percent of Americans spend money to improve their mood. The survey added what most of us knew — women shop more than men to be happier. According to Ebates.com, nearly 64 percent of women use retail as therapy, while almost 40 percent of men do the same.

What surprised me the most is what men and women specifically shop for. For women, clothes topped the list; for men, it was food. I was convinced the leading choices would have been shoes for women, and electronics for men. Instead, shoes came in third for women, and electronics second for men.

Can we fight the urge to spend money in order to improve our mood? I see it this way: Think of the adrenaline rush you get when you score a bargain for a 70-inch television on Black Friday. It feels pretty amazing. While I welcome the thought of shopping to kill the blues, here are a few tips to make sure a happier mood doesn’t turn into a depression once the credit-card bill is due.

1. Consider what makes you happier. If food helps you rejoice at the end of a tough week, consider stopping by your favorite ice cream shop for a scoop instead of buying a whole pint at the grocery store. Your waistline will approve. If you need a bigger purchase, don’t just grab for the first thing you see — shop around.

2. Look for a bargain, even during retail therapy. Use coupons, find rebates and comparison shop. Coincidently, survey sponsor Ebates.com is an online site that pays back shoppers for purchases made at a variety of online retailers. If your heart is set on buying the complete season of beloved TV show, find a retailer through a site like Ebates that will give cash back for that purchase. You may even find coupon codes to save on shipping or shave some bucks off your total. For more tips on how to get paid to shop, click here.

3. Have a backup plan; don’t let your savings take a punch. Set a goal to only dip into so much of that “fun money” or “rainy fund.” Making sure you keep some cushion cash might improve your mood too!