November is the month when we overindulge. We eat too much at Thanksgiving! Many of us figure, “what the heck we’ll go on a diet the next week.” Nothing wrong with that if we really do carry out our plan.
Let’s bring the conversation to money. I was caught by an editorial in a recent issue of Kiplinger‘s Personal Finance magazine. Knight Kiplinger is a big supporter of our @WI65project. His editor, Mark Solheim, took issue with a nationally syndicated financial advisor who criticized people for stopping on the way to work to overindulge in an upscale coffee drink because they were stealing money from their golden years. Mark’s point was that you should have the latte today – That latte is not going to set you back. And he’s right, it is not going to hurt. It’s probably good to treat ourselves every once in a while. But let me add to that. It’s not the latte, but the mindset that leads to our downfall. If we think we can treat ourselves every day to that special coffee or a sale item we see, or that fancy dress or suit or car that catches our eye, we may indeed miss our financial goals. A little indulgence here and there won’t hurt as long as we have the discipline to keep our indulgence in place. Think discipline!
On to the upcoming holidays and spending! Will you overindulge without realizing it? Perhaps. People do it all the time. Did you know that when you go into a store and there’s a display that lets you touch something, you are more likely to buy it? I saw a study that suggested it’s because when we touch something our minds are unconsciously opening up to let us consider it! Here’s another one from a university study. If they serve you free chocolate in the store your mind may play tricks on you-opening up your desire to be more inclined to make some kind of a purchase. The authors of the study say that’s because the taste and even the smell of the chocolate makes us feel good. And when we feel good we like to treat ourselves so we may overindulge. This is one reason some retailers may offer us a free chocolate sample in the store. Same thing with the smell of hot pies or bread that’s baking. A grocery store owner told me studies find the wonderful aroma will boost sales. If you see a sign for an item that is on sale and the sign is printed in the color red, we are more likely to stop and read it and think it’s a bigger discount than other items marked “sale” in different colors. Watch out for those red signs! One retailer told me when we stop to read any sign, we’re closer to buying the product even if we didn’t plan to. He told me that’s why he likes to plaster signs all over the front of his grocery store deli counter. So we will stop to read at least some of them.
And finally, as the hunt for holiday sales officially gets underway, an interesting study from a non profit organization called Checkbook.org. They tracked prices a couple of years back at major retailers for ten full months. Seventeen of the nineteen stores they followed were advertising items on sale for the holidays at the very same prices at which they were selling them during the year! How can that happen? Because they never sold the item at the so-called “regular” price. Technically they were always on sale at the same price! So the holiday ‘sale’ was really not a savings from their normal price! It literally pays to do your research.
So watch out for red signs, chocolate, things you can touch and remember to treat yourself…..with discipline.