Will Saving Money Make Me Happier Than Spending It?

A more ill fitting sweater does not exist but if it does I will buy it online to self soothe

Hello again sweet angels. I am back today to test my strength with a low buy March. The concept of low-buy or no buy periods of time have long been celebrated on Youtube and blogs by minimalists and money savers for the seemingly endless list of pros resulting from the endeavour. Money saving gurus have lauded the benefits of a rainy day fund and developing the discipline to say no to that thing that will bring momentary dopamine into our sad/struggling little brains.

Online shopping is delightful, truly. Throughout the Pandemic, having something arriving in the mail has at times felt like the only reason to live.

The harsh reality of this is, I overspend. I work in film/tv as well as service and in my city those industries are fighting to exist right now. With a stay at home order in place and endless time on my hands, the quick kick of dopamine from a purchase has become a real self care crutch. 

I recently came across the concept of low-buy or no buy after researching Instagram and the effects the app strategically has on our shopping habits. How easy it is to click through and make in app purchases, how teams of people (weirdos) sit around all day engineering updates that subconsciously encourage spending. I realized that prior to January 1st (the day I stopped using [Instagram]) I had made so many insane purchases just because it was easy. Clothes are my vice. I buy an absurd amount of clothes for someone who barely leaves the house.

The breaking point for me came when I had purchased a sweater from Zara and waited three weeks for it’s arrival. Every day the tracking teased it’s delivery and every passing hour that I did not have my coveted sweater made me desperately, hopelessly hornier to receive it. 

This sweater was going to make me beautiful and cozy like the Instagram ad I had seen it in. It would look Nordic (???) and the experience of owning it would take me from sitting in my Toronto apartment to hiking the Fjords or drinking coffee in a street cafe in Amsterdam. I had huge (extremely unhealthy, unrealistic, irrational, illogical) hopes for this sweater. 

Finally the day came. It arrived.

The sleeves don’t even fit in the frame.

Abysmal. I’m not sure that I own a more ill fitting piece of clothing. This beautiful 70 dollar sweater that I can’t even sell on Facebook Marketplace or trade on Bunz has become the pinnacle of disappointing purchases I’ve made through boredom and sadness.

Everytime I open my closet this bulky oppressive garbage garment mocks me. 

This experience made me wake the fuck up and realize that I am a shameful money waster who needs rehabilitation. 

What is a pandemic if not absolutely depressing at all moments.

Enter, low buy/no buy. First, It’s winter in Toronto. I don’t need to be buying clothes. I wear four items and go almost nowhere so this should be easy. 

Another interesting draw to this concept is contentment through delayed gratification. Research has shown that developing discipline is another important factor in overall contentment. Not giving full control to your emotions has far reaching benefits beyond saving a couple bucks here and there. Learning to control your desires or observe them as wants not needs can reportedly be life changing. Of course, that’s easier said than done.

Why shopping feels good

Feelings of sadness, stress, or anxiety are often rooted in feelings of powerlessness. The authors of the 2013 study suggest that retail therapy offers people a sense of control that counteracts these feelings.

Choosing to make a purchase (or not to make a purchase) helps people feel more empowered.


Author Ralph Waldo Emerson said that the destination is rarely the goal, but rather the journey is what makes humans happy. When we get the prized thing that we want with little to no effort it cheapens the experience and then we go out and do it again. That’s why online shopping feels so damn good. You make your purchase and wait for it and the anticipation is the dopamine bomb. 

The pandemic has caused so much uncertainty. So much job loss, so much financial insecurity and yet companies like Amazon are somehow thriving. We’re spending more than ever because we’re sad and it feels good.

So for one month I am not going to buy my vice. I will not purchase another ridiculously expensive long armed sweater or pants that hide my gorgeous thick calves. This will be hard, there is no doubt about it, but in the spirit of this blog I am going to try!

I invite you to join me in saying no. No more. No more buying shit that we absolutely do not need. The joy is only temporary. Let’s strive for a more sustainable feel good endeavour. Let’s control our impulses and emotions and see if we’re as tough as we sometimes like to fantasize.

I’ll keep you updated and please let me know how you do.

Godspeed sweet angels,