By Natalia Amandari

We’ve all had that moment. You see something nice in the store. Or maybe it’s a pricier drink at the coffee shop. You think to yourself:  No, I shouldn’t. I’d be better off saving that money…

But then another thought creeps into your head…I just did well on my last exam, so it’s time to…Treat yourself!

Made popular by the TV show, “Parks and Recreation” in a 2011 episode, the “Treat Your Self” phrase is the perfect excuse for impulsively buying yourself things you don’t need. Interestingly, the same year, a study of compulsive shopping by college students gave retail therapy poor grades indeed. According to an article in Psychology Today, compulsive shoppers had lower grade point averages, increased stress, and poorer physical and mental health.

On the other hand, another team of researchers from the University of Michigan reported in 2014 that shopping actually can relieve sadness. In making decisions about what to buy, the shopper regains a sense of control and reduces residual stress, according to the study.

But while some can take the phrase to excess, science does say that there is value in treating yourself occasionally. For a lot of people, as the Michigan study suggests, a little retail therapy comes as a form of self-care. Other studies show that shopping has therapeutic benefits, like boosting creativity and helping the brain relax.

So, you’re a busy college student looking to de-stress. Here are four tips to treating yourself without breaking the bank.

  • Try a new facemask or a home facial. Not only are you treating yourself to a few moments of relaxation, but you’re giving your skin a treat at the same time. They’re thrifty too — individual masks run at about $5, or you can try a homemade mask with ingredients from your pantry.
  • If you’re ok with spending more money, make sure you’re at least buying something that will last. A pair of high-quality shoes will last longer than a cheaper pair, giving you a higher return on your investment and saving you money in the long run. And that great pair of new boots will give you a smile every time you wear them!
  • Treat yourself to a movie night at home instead of going out to a theater. Use the money you’d spend on tickets on yummy snacks instead. Bonus points if you bake something on your own.
  • Treating yourself doesn’t have to involve shopping: Even sitting in the park to gather your thoughts or taking a nap can have you feeling just as satisfied.

Natalia Almandari is a graduate student at the University of Missouri School of Journalism.