Mend a Broken Heart Without Breaking the Bank

by Jennifer Holder on 3 January 2013 1 comment
Photo: Cia de Foto

When a relationship ends, many of us have a tendency to run straight to the nearest shopping mall for some retail therapy. Or maybe you’re the type who eats your feelings. Or maybe you travel to distract yourself or go out every night to the local bar. Whatever your coping strategy, a breakup often equals an empty wallet. But it doesn’t have to. The next time your heart is broken, try one or more of these strategies to treat your broken heart without going broke. (See also: 4 Ways to Have a Better Day)

1. Delete Your Ex From All Social Media

The first step on this journey might sound stupid, but it’s important. Despite how you feel once the break up is over (whether it was amicable or otherwise), delete him or her from all social media. If you feel comfortable, you could go as far as asking them to please make themselves private, so you don't obsessively seek out their whereabouts. Doing so might send you into an online shopping spree or worse, drinking alone that expensive bottle of wine your friend gave you for Christmas. Save it for a special occasion, not when your ex is on the beach with another person.

2. Reconnect With Old Friends

Romantic relationships take time, and most of that time is taken out of our friendships. Now that you have more time on your hands, contact your friends, meet up with them for a walk through the park, or invite them over to watch a movie. This is the time to reconnect and find value in those you surround yourself with; they’re your friends, and they should be there for you. Just a tip, though — don’t wallow.

3. Reconnect With Your Community

Check out your local community paper and see what might be happening down the street. There are sure to be street fairs, outside events, neighborhood association parties, and the like which would be a perfect way for you to meet new neighbors and become a vital part of your community.

4. Volunteer

On the heels of reconnecting with your community, volunteering is a great way to make a difference (and make you feel better — no pure altruism here). You’ll get a sense of pride out of helping to build a house, providing food to the homeless, or simply reading to children. There a lot of options, so once you reconnect with your community, see where you can be helpful.

5. Immerse Yourself in Work or Focus on Your Career Path

I’m not a licensed psychologist, so don’t take this as “real” advice, because I have a feeling most licensed psychologists might think this is a bad thing. But I am a firm believer in immersing yourself in your work when you are down. It’s a good distraction, and it can prove fruitful (ie, earn you a raise). And if you’re not happy where you are (because usually when one thing is bad, everything seems bad), focus on your career path. Refocus your happiness on your future, not on that person from your past.

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6. Learn Something New

Take this time to grow your mind. I’ve mentioned a few ways to learn something new for free in the past, but there are plenty of other options, including Khan Academy. Pick something and go learn — it’ll distract you and you’ll be smarter as a result. Win-win.

7. Get Active

One of the best stress relievers in the world is exercise. Start running or join a local gym. I know, frugal broken heart mending is the goal here, but trust me — this is far more frugal than binge eating, and you’ll feel much better afterward. If you can, find a gym that offers a variety of classes (especially yoga) and has a sauna. You’ll be relaxed, and you’ll be fit for your next relationship.

8. Dive Into a Project or Hobby

After you learn something new, start a project or hobby. If there is a wall that needs to be painted, paint it. If there's a chair that needs to be reupholstered, reupholster it. Along the same lines, learn to knit, sew, or play golf. There are plenty of things to pick up that can serve as a long-term diversion (and ultimately make you more interesting).

9. Adopt a Pet

If you can’t fill the void with anything else, consider getting a pet. Doesn't have to be a big one — you can start small with a fish and work your way up to a larger pet. Don't jump into this arrangement lightly of course, but loneliness can definitely be solved via fluffy animals or fish bowls. Check out the local animal shelter — you can simultaneously save a life and move on with yours.

10. Seek Out Therapy

OK, I’m going slightly off the frugal script here, but if you are really, really hurting and can’t cope, you should absolutely consider therapy from a licensed professional. Seek out your HR department at your job and see if there are free counseling sessions available to employees, or contact your local government and see if there are any counseling sessions in your area or group sessions. If all else fails, this is the one thing to spend money on — therapy can get you back to yourself again, and really that’s the whole point.

How do you mend a broken heart without ripping a hole through your wallet?

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There are some great tips here that can help improve both your and other's lives, but I feel like #1 and #9 are a bit misguided. As for the first, deleting someone from all social media may not cost anything financially, but the act of removing them can take an emotional toll on the recipient. If you really can't stand the sight of their statuses you can hide them on facebook, an equally effective yet less severe alternative. As for pets, I love the idea, but don't think it really works with the frugal theme. Whether it's a fish (tank, filter, tank cleaner, food) or a dog (vet visits, leash, food) the long-term costs of pets can be pretty substantial. Outside of that, I loved the tips!