Wednesday, December 29, 2010 at 2:03PM
We are well into the post-holiday-gift-set-up period. What I mean by that is by now if you received some neat stuff this season odds are there are still boxes and wrappings scattered along your living space. Is there not a better feeling? Well I mean there is waiting to return gifts that were the wrong size, color, or model. Then there's the feeling of purchasing something that you actually did want which can be a whole other high all together. Let's put all the great stuff about receiving to the side for a moment and talk about the giving or even the buying for yourself. Did you spend more than you anticipated this year? Did you put more than you wanted on your credit cards? Are you a shopper that is roaming the malls and stores this week cleaning up on all the holiday sales out of impulse? If it's planned spending did you really "plan" for it or are you just rationalizing? Today's post is going to be themed in buyers remorse and cognitive dissonance - then maybe a tip or two on how to minimize those feelings.
Tips on beating Buyer's Remorse:
We've all experienced buyers remorse. In fact I would wager that more people are experiencing it on average as this season is proving to be one of the best shopping/spending seasons in years. Which for the economy is actually very good news. What exactly is buyer's remorse you might be asking yourself? Well it's an anxiety created when a person does/thinks something that internally conflicts with other ideas they have. Practically that could mean going out to buy something that would be over reaching your budget. You know you shouldn't spend but you do anyways - creating conflict. I absolutely know this feeling. If you are a psych or sociology person, or just someone who is interested in why people do the things they do, then this is often grouped in the cognitive dissonance category. Think really hard this past holiday season, was there ever a time that something like this could have happened to you? How/what did you feel? How did you get over that feeling?
Odds are you, just like I do on a very regular basis, did some rationalizing. This doesn't mean that you, or me still, always do everything rationally. Rationalizing is creating the reasons or crafting the stories that justify why we do what we do. Making sense of our decisions can also come in flavors like: marginalizing, blaming, or denying. Without getting all Freudian explanation on you guys I wanted to mention this stuff because making decisions and your ability to prioritize and plan have an absolute effect your financial situation. People talk about making resolutions this week on almost every site you visit - mine included - but don't talk about how we move from idea to action. Just like spending there needs to be an incentive for you to part with your cash and a motivation, a sense of self/value systems might come in handy too. Humans are creatures of efficiency believe it or not so when it comes to taking action our brains in seconds decide whether our thought about efforts are worth the time and energy. That leads to rationalizing and it works with spending/consumption too!
Tips on beating Buyer's Remorse:
- Have a plan! Sounds basic but the more ownership you take in a plan of action the more in tune you are with actually following it through. You make it part of your standing identity.
- Physically limit your spending. Only have a fixed amount of cash in your pocket or a set amount of money in the checking account when you go shopping. Even just adding an extra step can be enough to deter you from making a bad spending decision - and save you time rationalizing it later.
- Leave the credit at home. If you're going out with a plan then leave the plastic behind. It helps in the deterring just like your fixed limits.
- Buddy System. Shopping can be like swimming or those elementary school field trips. If you have someone with you who has the same objectives or at least sympathizes with yours hopefully their voice will be louder than the one in your head when you are trying to justify that extra widget you don't really need for the house.
- Set a time limit. Giving yourself a deadline or an allowed amount of time will help you focus on the spending you actually have to do and take away that extra browsing time.
There you have it. Some insight into buyer's remorse and how to beat it. I have to be honest and say that I use these rules almost explicitly when I take a ride down to the casinos in Connecticut every once and while and they work great. Where I need some work...the shopping I do Amazon and at Best Buy. Now I'm off to return some VGA connection cables, when everything is HDMI (ones I just bought) why do they even make these things anymore?