There’s a scene in Gone with the Wind where Scarlett is at an upscale restaurant with Rhett. She’s stuffing her face with one of the many delicious-looking desserts spread on the table before her. A waiter passes by carrying a tray heaped with more amazing desserts. She points eagerly and says something like, “Oooh, I want that one.”
Many of us have so much. Yet we still desire or must buy the next shiny thing right now, whether it be a new cell phone or other updated electronic or technology item, trendy clothes, or the latest thing in home decor. We want to be the cool kid on the block by being the first to have the iPad3 or the latest popular app. The media and advertisers play on this urge via intriguing articles, stellar reviews and tempting ads. Advances in technology have made purchasing easier than ever…such as Amazon.com’s one click.
Some of us seem to be incapable of saying no to ourselves, of denying or even postponing a purchase until they’ve saved up or at least can get that item on sale. Some may not even compare prices to see if there’s a better deal. The immediate gratification of ownership and playing with a new toy prevails over common sense and the size of our bank accounts. Self-control and caution are thrown to the wind.
Retail therapy may soothe us, make us feel better in the short term. We may enjoy our new toy(s). But how many have buyer’s remorse, or feel guilty when the bill arrives? Go deeper into credit card debt or put off home repair or a medical expense?
So much advice is offered about shopping with care…don’t go to the grocery when you’re hungry, make a list of what you need, etc. But in the moment, many don’t heed it.
–know how much you’ve spent in the last month on things you don’t really need? (For example, how much did you spend on coffee, drinks and eating out? What percent of your monthly income goes to entertainment, and how does that compare to what finacial advisors recommend?)
–hide purchases (or dissemble about the cost) from your significant other?
–defensively justify spending money?
–have an emergency account of three to six months of expenses?
If you answer ‘no’ to all of the above, consider taking steps to curb your spending.