It’s that time of year again…time to throw away your money! OK, I mean, it’s time to get ready for Christmas!
For many Americans, spending can get out of control during the holidays. According to the American Journal of Psychiatry, compulsive spending affects 1 in 20 Americans, leaving many men and women feeling worse after the holiday than they did before the malls put “Jingle Bell Rock” into constant rotation.
Compulsive spending is an addiction, no different from any other. You feel bad. You spend. You feel happy. You spend. You feel stressed. You spend. It’s hard enough for compulsive spenders to turn their backs on shopping, but when the holidays roll around, it’s almost as though they’ve been given a license to trade their time and money for temporary warm fuzzies.
Even if you’re not an addict, it’s easy for most families to overspend during the holiday season – if for no other reason than the simple joy of giving. Here’s how to curb your compulsion to spend:
1. Get support
Getting support from a trusted friend or family member is essential to beating the shopping compulsion. This trusted group should be able to talk you down during those times when you feel weak and want to surrender. They should be able to gently prod you into sticking to your goal of buying only what you need.
2. Go public
Holding yourself publicly accountable can offer some of the strongest incentives to maintaining reasonable spending habits. People hate to be embarrassed, and there are many cases where people take their struggles online, setting themselves up with a challenge that would shame them if they were to fail. If you don’t have a blog, you can use social networks, such as Facebook, to announce your goal and report your progress. Potential failures can help you stay focused on your budget.
3. Plan and stash
Design a plan and stick to it by taking only the cash you need to buy the gifts you want. Are decorations necessary? No, they’re not. Christmas is about connecting with friends and family. If your house is missing five extra strings of lights on the roof, come up with something different that will enable you to stick to your gift-giving budget. Forgo everything else until you have the money to pay for it.
4. Stay offline
Remember that Business Insider report that said the average family will spend $1,000 this Christmas? It also says online shoppers spend 22 percent more than those in stores. So, stick to the brick and mortars when shopping for gifts.
5. Stay goal-oriented
Frequently remind yourself to keep your spending reasonable this year. When you wake up, remind yourself. When you walk out the door to shop, remind yourself. When you see things you want to buy (but know you don’t need, for you or anyone else on your list), remind yourself. Let the knowledge that you need something be your only trigger to buy.
This article by Vincent King comes from partnersite MoneyNing.