Still Time To Avoid A Holiday Overspending Hangover

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Unless you’re a Scrooge or super disciplined, it’s oh-so easy to get caught up in the ho-ho-ho of holiday spending. Whether you’re an admitted shopaholic, or have a tendency to over give, not to worry. What follows are three tips to avoid that horrible oh-my-God-I’ve- spent-too-much holiday spending hangover.

April Lane Benson, Ph.D., author and NYC therapist who specializes in compulsive buying disorder, knows of what she speaks. A recovering compulsive shopping addict, who now helps others with their addictions, has plenty to say on the subject.

“Compulsive buying is called the Smiled Upon Addiction,” said Benson, in her presentation to members of Financial Therapy Association earlier this month. “It’s called that because consumption fuels our economy.” She added that we even had a president who after 9/11 told everyone to go shopping.

According to Benson, compulsive buying is an addiction that carries more guilt and shame than alcoholism and drug addiction. “These are problems for which we have a lot of treatments. There is not a lot of treatment yet for compulsive buying disorder.”

The disorder can wreak havoc on everyone’s pocketbook whether they are problem buyers or not. And, can become a serious issue during the holidays when giving is in and expected.

But not to worry. Benson offered three simple suggestions to ward off the likelihood of a holiday overspending hangover. They are:

1.Don’t take the kids with you. Holiday shopping with the kids can cost you. According to Benson, research suggests that people spend 29 percent more than what is in their budget when they shop with their children.

2.Forget shopping with your partner. That will cost you too. “We tend to spend 19 percent more when we are shopping with a partner,” she said.

3. Don’t use a shopping cart. Or if you must, choose a small one. Similar to serving a meal on a big dinner plate, choose a smaller plate and it will hold less. And so it is with shopping carts: You can’t get as much in a small one as you can one of those great big ones and that could mean less money spent.

Oh, and there’s one more thing: Buying experiences rather than stuff pays off lots more for everyone—the gift giver and the gift receiver.

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