I always spend too much at Christmas – why is that?
Part of the enjoyment of shopping for a lot of people is the dopamine hit that we get when we’re given our purchases, especially if they’re in a nice bag and wrapped in tissue paper. The issue though is what’s called ‘hedonic adaptation’.
Essentially, we soon become acclimatised to the dopamine hit, and so we need greater and greater purchases to get the same effect. In a nutshell that’s one of the reasons why we can spend too much at Christmas – because spending the same amount of money isn’t as satisfying.
The answer to this is to vary what we do for pleasure. Whether it’s time with friends or time to yourself, a walk in the countryside or an afternoon with a favourite film, the wider the range of activity the less you’ll need to spend more and more each time to get the same effect.
I always spend too much at Christmas – what can I do?
There are some questions that you can ask yourself as well to make sure that you stay out of temptation’s way and don’t spend too much at Christmas on presents.
Could you make a present instead? You don’t have to be a gifted knitter or jam maker to make someone a present. Making a good sloe gin or soft drink is surprisingly easy, and the results can be very impressive. Plus there’s something very warming about being given a present where part of the gift is the time and trouble that someone has gone to for you.
Could you buy less? Have you thought about suggesting a ‘Secret Santa’ or ‘Kris Kringle’ in your family or friends? Both work on the basis that instead of everyone buying everyone else a present you draw one name out of a hat and buy a present just for that person. The only difference is that in a ‘Kris Kringle’ you know who’s bought each gift, whereas in a Secret Santa it’s a secret (obviously). In both though someone gets to enjoy a more substantial gift, without the need to spend too much themselves.
Have I made a list? If you haven’t made a list then don’t start shopping until you have. Don’t be tempted to look for inspiration in the shops instead of making a list. A mixture of crowds, pressure, and a lack of space to sit and think mean that it’s easy to choose presents that aren’t just not quite right but are way over budget instead. This is especially important of you like to spend the same amount on different people – then an increase in cost for one is multiplied across them all.
Have I looked on-line? Shopping on-line may lack the personal touch but there are sites where you can buy from independent makers and shops if that’s important to you. Better still you can stick to your list, find the best price, and not be distracted by other items or shoppers. And if you can have it delivered to where you work then you don’t even have to go to the sorting office or depot.