Avoiding Shopping Traps

According to research from Stanford University, over one in 20 adults are obsessive shoppers, purchasing things they don’t need, use, or even want. That is because shopping, once devoted to acquiring necessities, has come to fill various emotional needs-it’s entertainment, a bonding activity, a sport, a type of self-expression, and, sometimes, a means of peace.

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 an item for $29.99 because we tend to discount it to $20 instead of $30. The anticipation of getting a great 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 have already got this debt, so it why would it matter if I add on more.

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

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

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