by Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil

The New York Times recently ran an article on shoe shopping. Turns out this event hasn’t taken much of a hit, even as we’re more strapped for cash as a nation and spending less. People are still buying shoes left and right. And in October, shoe sales were actually up almost eight percent over what they were at this time last year. If this may seem kind of strange considering many are still feeling the pain of the recession, the NYTimes article offers more than a few suggestions, including:

* with conspicuous consumption being out of fashion nowadays, shoes enable people to update their wardrobes without being ostentatious
* “It’s just fun to shop for shoes. Maybe part of the fun is you don’t feel fat. And you don’t get hot. It’s exhausting trying clothes on”
* Shoes democratize fashion
* You could spend thousands of dollars to go away right now, or you can buy walking shoes
* women’s shoes typically cost half as much as a handbag of similar quality.
* “[Because I walk everywhere] “I use the argument, ‘If I spend $150 to $300 on shoes, this is my car.’”
* consumers were snapping up shoes in bright colors like yellow and red, “something that sticks out and makes you happy” (proving that we’re looking for an emotional lift, or a dopamine high to cancel out the feelings of worry and depression that have become all-too-commonplace.)

As I’ve suggested in earlier articles, many of us are coming to the end of our frugal fashion ropes. We’re feeling “frugal fatigue,” according to the article, and we’re more likely to commit financial infidelity or make a “pent-up” purchase (what I consider to be purchases made out of frustration when a person is tired of being restricted – monetarily or otherwise).

It’s understandable that as the most brutal fear of the recession is seeming to pass for most people, we would emerge on the other side with a pent-up desire to spend. And given some of the reasons above, shoe shopping may actually sound like a good outlet! But consider your motivation, finances – and relationships before you indulge. Don’t seek out spending just for the rush – I tackled this idea of money as related to a dopamine “high” for research for the book “Make up Don’t Break up – as it’s a short-lived thrill and will likely cause even more problems down the road if you’re not equipped long-term to handle the financial pressure of splurge purchases.

Don’t let an innocent desire for the season’s latest style of boots turn into an issue of financial infidelity ~ where one person is dishonest with their partner about finances or purchases something behind their partner’s back. One person shouldn’t feel like they’re less-informed or less-involved in the financial process. This can lead to contempt and revenge spending. The important thing is to engage in what I call in my research “Smart Heart Dialogue” – and explain more in depth in the book “Makeup Don’t Break up. It boils down to this: be honest with your partner about your money management and yes, even the temptation to buy a new pair of heels!

While a recession is painful and frustrating – and restricting your spending because of it can be exhausting! – it can be a good time to get back to basics and realize we don’t need the latest trend to come off the runways or an expensive meal to connect with the things and people we care about!


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