I was reading a catalog yesterday to find a window blind. One summary describing a certain blind and curtains read this way: “This window was desperately needing some color and attention”. DESPERATELY - as in urgent, and life-threatening. It is fair to say that a window undressed will never be a desperate situation, and yet the description can trigger an immediate need in some of us to have windows as beautiful as those in the catalog, or feel terribly inadequate if we don’t. Beware of the following phrases that trigger many of us and how to fight them:
Fear of Missing Out
“One Day Sale”, and “Only 2 Left in Stock” are phrases that awaken our Fear of Missing Out. We live in one of the most abundant continents in the world, and yet still we are triggered to compete. It is no longer about basic needs like food, it’s about getting our fair share of the abundance before it runs out.
Fitting in with the Pack
We all want to fit in. This goes way back in our DNA when being part of the tribe helped us stay alive. Words like “Trending Items”, “Most Popular Items”, “Need to Have Item”, and “Oprah’s Favorite Things” suggest that others in the tribe are buying these, so we should buy them as well.
Survival of the Fittest
The phrases “Up to 40% Off”, “Countdown to Christmas”, and “Race to Black Friday” position shopping as a sport, with winners and losers. These phrases evoke boast-worthy Facebook posts and cocktail party fodder when the winner proudly compares their savings and deals with others. If you overspend, or buy something you didn’t really need, you aren’t truly saving, are you?
“Essentials for Holiday Decorating” is a pretty powerful phrase. This retailer is telling you that you NEED all of these things to have a properly decorated home. The suggestion is that if you don’t, you are a failure.
Here’s How to Fight Those Trigger Words
- Ask yourself the question “Or What?”. If I don’t buy this item, what will happen? Will I need to look somewhere else? Will my best friend leave me? Will I be scorned by the tribe for not having one? If you think about it, these triggers play on imaginary fears that never come true.
- Use the web site camelcamelcamel.com. It tracks the price of items on Amazon all year long. You may find that the deal NOW, is no deal at all. This helps you walk away from your fear of missing out.
- Plan Ahead. Sleep on It. After surfing or shopping in stores for a few hours, you can no longer make a rational decision. You are fatigued, and have too many choices. If you’re shopping in advance of when gifts are due, push away from your phone or computer, or go home. Sleep on it. There are very few deals you will lose out on, or even remember 24 hours later.
- Breathe. Put space between you and the purchase just before you buy and ask yourself some quick, critical questions:
* did I plan to buy this item?
* is it in my spending plan for the holiday season?
* is it a deal if it sits on my credit card for a year at 19% before I pay it off?
* if I don’t buy it, what’s the worst that can happen?
* am I buying it for someone, or to feel good about myself?
Wishing You All a Happy Thanksgiving full of the important things in life - love, family, friends, freedom, health.
Your Personal Money Coach & Compulsive Shopping Specialist