Not much good ever comes from getting caught up in a feverish holiday shopping spree -- even (especially?) on the unofficial day devoted to doing so. Neuromarketing expert Martin Lindstrom gives us an inside look at our purchasing patterns and strategies for keeping our wallets in check.
1. Go Alone
It may be a lot more fun to shop with a friend, but it can cost you -- as much as 40 percent more. Why? Lindstrom cites competition as a cause, but it also may be that you like spending each other's money: It's easy to talk your friend into buying that great pair of jeans or knee-high boots. Likewise, she may convince you that it would be great to buy iPods for your kids.
2. Wait 48 Hours
Don't leap at every great offer at the mall, says Lindstrom; give yourself two full days before you bite the bullet (especially with the more expensive ones). "Believe it or not, when you stop to consider the purchases, you'll buy fewer and spend 20 to 25 percent less than if you sprung for them that day," Lindstrom says.
3. Follow Through with Online Purchases
Interestingly, the opposite approach applies in the virtual world. Lindstrom's research shows that if you pause to do something else or get interrupted while loading your online shopping cart, you'll spend 19 to 23 percent more money when you return than if you'd finished up the order in one sitting.
4. Look Beyond the Fancy Features
Before you buy that 12-megapixel camera, consider that top-shelf options may offer more than you need. "Unless you're creating a billboard for Times Square, chances are you'll never use the 12-megapixel feature," he says. Don't get caught up in the latest and greatest; focus on what you need a product to do, instead of what it could do, and you'll save yourself some serious cash.
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Save even more cash by making gifts yourself. Get inspired by our home-dye DIY.