November 02, 2009


I returned something to a department store today and I was amazed to find Christmas merchandise out, two days after Halloween. Every year the holiday-shopping madness seems to start earlier. Stores get customers in the mood to spend by telling them that Christmas will be here SOON.

While I applaud people who do their gift buying early and stay out of stores in December, I wonder how many people buy more than they intend to because they are tempted by colorful displays of “gift ideas.” Whether you are buying for other people or for yourself, it is easy to spend more than you had planned.

April Benson is a psychologist and the author of To Buy or Not to Buy: Why we Overshop and How to Stop. Before you make a purchase, she suggests you stop and ask yourself a few questions:

How do I feel? Are you bored? Lonely? Angry? Is there another activity that will make you feel better?
Do I need this or do I have something like it already? Are you buying to replace something or are you just adding to what you already own? Is it truly a need or is it a want?
What if I wait? Will you still want it tomorrow? Next week? Next month?
How will I pay for it? Are you already in credit-card debt? Are you worried
about job stability? Now may not be the time to make a purchase, even if “it’s only a few dollars.” Every few dollars adds up.
Where will I put it? If you don’t have room for it, why would you
add more clutter to your environment? Don’t buy now for “someday.”

Dr. Benson says that the key to breaking the shopping habit is to put space between the impulse and the action. She suggests that you actually write the answers to the questions you ask yourself. Giving yourself time to consider whether you really want to make a purchase and you may realize that it isn’t necessary.

If you answer the questions honestly and decide that you really do need whatever it was you were thinking of buying, get it. If the answers cause you to recognize that you don’t need to buy it, you can avoid spending money on things that don’t add value to your life.

What can you do to keep from spending too much this holiday season? Click on Post a Comment, below, and tell us.

Organized by Marcie: Getting you organized so you have time to do what you love to do!
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