Going into a mall during the holidays can be as dangerous as sending an alcoholic into an open bar. The sales, the artful displays, and the pushy salesclerks can all woo you into buying something you don’t need, or worse, can’t afford. Here are some ways to curb compulsive shopping so you save your money for what you really, really want.
Break the snowball effect
Don’t buy everything in one store. We often think, “I’ve spent $200, what’s another $20?” So shop around, getting different purchases from different stores, or at least, trying to check out other options. You may end up finding a better deal, but even if you go back for the item you first fell in love with, at least you avoid shopper’s remorse.
Don’t just buy because of the price
Something can be dirt-cheap but if you won’t use it, or never planned to buy it anyway, then you still lose out. Ask yourself, “Would I buy this even if it weren’t on sale?” or “How big is the discount? Will I really save a significant amount of money?” If you use your credit card to buy something that’s just 25% off, but won’t be able to pay it off right away, then you end up spending a lot more on interest or late fees.
Pay with cash
The problem with credit cards is we don’t physically see what we spend. But when we use actual bills, we feel our wallet getting thinner. Also, a huge credit card debt also numbs us into buying more and more—kind of like a dieter going on a binge. “I already ate one piece, I might as well have the whole cake.”
Don’t shop when you’re depressed
Shopping can give us a temporary mood boost, but not only does this pleasure easily disappear, the euphoria makes us reckless. So the best defense is to go shopping when we’re already in a good mood. Don’t even step into a mall when you’re tired, depressed, lonely, or stressed out.