Avoiding Shopping Traps

Comments Off on Avoiding Shopping Traps 01 June 2011

According to research from Stanford University, more than one in 20 adults are compulsive shoppers, buying objects they don’t need, use, or even want. That’s because shopping, once devoted to gaining necessities, has come to fill a lot of emotional needs-it’s entertainment, a bonding activity, a sport, a way of self-expression, and, quite often, a means of comfort.

Using brain scans, researchers have shown that the nucleus accumbens, an area associated with pleasure and reward, lights up as people consider a purchase, while the insula, a structure that plays an essential role in pain, is initiated when they think about the cost. The two brain areas compete with each other to determine whether you will purchase something.

Purchasing a lot in one store can decrease your sensitivity to the pain of cost. You hit the what-the-heck effect: You have spent $200; what’s another $20 for a T-shirt? Try going to multiple stores for different purchases.

A retail tactic we should be wise to, is buying something for $29.99 because we tend to discount it to $20 instead of $30. The anticipation of getting a good deal is what drives us toward the cash register, not the object itself-and as a result, we end up with stuff we don’t particularly want. If paying for goods causes pain in the brain, credit cards are aspirin. Unfortunately, cards also create bigger headaches later on. Using cash is the number one antidote to overspending, according to experts. If you do pay with a credit card, beware of the trap I’ve already got this debt, so it doesn’t matter if I add more on.

The mall has been blamed for killing America’s main streets, taking business away from mom-and-pop shops. But now malls themselves could be on the endangered list. But with so many of us now depending on these places to socialize, de-stress, even exercise, what are we able to do when the local mall is shuttered?

When you see a range of prices, it is as if you were coming from a poorly lit room into a bright one; at first you aren’t used to the light, but you adjust easily. We do not think about how much money is worth to us; we just make a relative choice. If you are trying to decide on an item that comes in various models, give yourself a time limit. When you’re down to the final two choices, toss a coin, and while it is in midair, try to feel how you want it to fall-that’s your answer.

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