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  • 5 behaviours that make you spend more

    5 behaviours that make you spend more
    Published December 4, 2012
    5 behaviours that make you spend more
    These common behaviors are a form of self-sabotage that can trigger spending sprees.

    The holidays can really make a girl’s spending senses tingle; there are great deals, twinkly lights and beautiful things as far as the eye can see – and they’re all aiming to wreak havoc on your best budgetary intentions. But as if that weren’t enough, there are a lot of less obvious things that help to sabotage our self control when we hit the shops. The worst part is - we actually set a lot of these traps for ourselves. Looking to stick to your list and steer clear of impulse buys? Here are a few common behaviors to avoid.

    1) Spending time with “friends”
    Facebook friends, that is. While the holidays are a time to spend with close friends and family, a study researchers at Columbia Business School and the University of Pittsburgh that will be published in the Journal of Consumer Research in June 2013 found a connection between keeping tabs on good friends on Facebook and credit card debt. The study concluded that even a brief bout of Facebooking tended to boost users’ self esteem, making them more susceptible to over-spending  immediately lowering self control. As an aside, this reduced inhibition also contributed to weight gain (which, let’s face it, is another hurdle everyone has to overcome during the holidays!).

    So, does this mean shopping and social media don’t mix? Maybe not, but it does suggest that you should shop first, and message your BFF about it afterward. Oh, and the study only found this strange correlation when it came to good friends and family, so feel free to keep stalking your third-grade crush.

    2) Paying with plastic
    Credit cards are a financial catch-22: Not only do they cost you more in the form of interest, they also make you spend more than you would if you were paying with cash, or even debit card.  A study published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science in 2010 found that luxury purchases such as designer clothes, watches, and nice cars – i.e. things you totally don’t need - are more likely to be bought with credit than cash. The same study also found that those who paid for the same item with a credit card versus cash were likely to pay more for it. Finally, another study conducted Cornell University and published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that having a credit card in hand makes shoppers more susceptible to caving in to small impulse purchases. Clearly, credit cards and good judgment don’t mix. If over-spending is a problem for you, leaving the credit card at home might be a sure-fire cure.

    3) Shopping when sad
    The holidays aren’t a happy time for everyone, but while you might assume that sad feelings would send shoppers straight home to the cookies, a case of the blues might actually have the opposite effect. According to a 2008 study Carnegie Mellon University and published in the journal Psychological Science, people’s spending judgment goes out the window when they’re down. We’re all aware of the power of retail therapy, but according to this study, that’s an entirely different phenomenon because it’s something we do consciously to cheer ourselves up. Sadness, on the other hand, can trigger extravagant tendencies that manage to slip right under our radar. If the holidays lack cheer for you this year, it may be best to keep shopping to a minimum.

    4) Carrying a shopping cart

    We’ve all heard how eating off a bigger plate causes us to eat more. Well, the same is true for retail consumption. According to “Buyology: Truth and Lies About What We Buy,” a shopping cart acts as a sort of visual cue; the bigger it is the more we buy. That’s why bulk and discount retailers tend to be the ones that provide shopping carts and baskets. The message here is - this stuff’s so cheap, you can afford to load up! If you’re concerned about your budget, leave the cart at the door.

    5) Budgeting

    Budgeting is an essential tool for keeping holiday spending in check, but it can backfire. According to an experiment conducted marketing professors from Brigham Young University and Emory University, when consumers went shopping for a specific item with a specific price in mind, they spent up to 50 percent more than those who hit the shops without a budget.

    If you’re thinking, what?! - so were we, but here’s how it works: Let’s say you hit the shops with the intention of buying a nice cashmere sweater for someone on your list (because seriously, who doesn’t love cashmere?) and you figure that $80 will get the job done. Once you shop around and check out a few stores, however, you’ll inevitably notice that the $120 sweaters are considerably nicer than the ones that meet or fall below your budgeted price. And so, that’s what you buy. The researchers concluded that budgeting’s benefits probably still outweigh the risks, but stipulate that it works best for aggregate purchases (such as groceries for the month), where this bias toward quality is less likely to throw you off course.

    Know your triggers

    Sometimes it feels like we’re hardwired to spend our hard-earned money as fast as we can make it. There’s probably some truth to that, but overcoming spending traps isn’t impossible. The best you can do is to be aware of the triggers that can spur a spending spree so that the next time you’re surrounded beautiful things, you won’t feel the need to bring them all home with you!

    About the Author/Partner: GoldenGirlFinance.ca is a free personal finance and education site for women.

    Nothing contained herein is intended to provide personalized financial, legal or tax advice. Before implementing any financial or legal strategy, you should obtain information and advice from your financial, legal and/or tax advisers who are fully aware of your individual circumstances, as well as fully aware of current laws and regulations

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