Holidays Made Easy

Don't shop when hungry — and other ways to curb impulse buys this holiday

It's holiday crunch time, and you may still be working through your shopping list. Could this be because you're been too distracted buying things for yourself?

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Teenagers shopping

Some 75 percent of Americans cop to purchasing on impulse, according to a report from CreditCards.com. Here's how to stay focused during your last-minute shopping this week:

  • Be stoic. Don’t shop when you’re sad, angry, or hungry. CreditCards.com's research found that women were twice as likely as men to purchase on impulse when sad. Anger makes you more optimistic and hunger, quite simply, will make you want more stuff. Understanding the emotions behind your impulses can help you do something else instead.
  • Don’t drink and shop. Don’t do your last minute shopping right after your holiday party, when you may be a bit tipsy. Drinking inhibits your ability to think rationally and weigh the consequences of your impulse buys.
  • Channel gratitude. To curb an impulse to buy something, David DeSteno, professor of psychology at Northeastern University, advises that you not obsess over products you want. Instead, focus on being grateful for what you already have. His research says that gratitude helps take the edge off.
  • Return it. If you gave into an impulse purchase and regret it, return the item if you can.
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