How to Beat Financial Temptation
- 2010 24 Sep
If you've ever stopped by the store to pick up milk and walked out with something quite different, like a big screen TV, you know the power of temptation.
As weak as we may feel at times, it is possible to learn how to face down temptation and win.
Identify the weakness. 'Fess up. What are your areas of temptation? Clothes, shoes, collectibles? Movies, food, gadgets? Electronics, crafts, plants?
What tempts me doesn't faze my husband. He could go for the rest of his life without the slightest desire to buy more fabric, but put me in a craft store or quilt shop and I'm a shopping disaster just waiting to happen. He and I are just wired differently.
Stop flirting with danger. If you're ever going to win over temptation, you must stop cozying up to the very thing that causes you to stumble. If you are easily tempted by clothes, don't spend hours cruising the mall. In fact, don't even go there unless you have a specific need and a reasonable plan to fulfill it.
If mail order catalogs are your weakness, take them out to the garbage and push them down to the bottom to head off a middle-of-the-night retrieval. If eBay is your weakness, don't log on. Is it QVC or the Home Shopping Network? Delete those channels from your lineup.
Develop a diversion. Temptation is usually fueled by emotion, not by reason. When temptation whispers in your ear, you need to divert your attention to something equally enjoyable but less injurious to your financial health. Like ironing. Or a book or crossword puzzle. Or a nap.
You already know that my diversion is ironing. I love the soothing sound of a steam iron as it glides back and forth removing wrinkles and sending back a clean, fresh smell. My iron is always ready. I can divert temptation with the flip of a switch.
Identify true needs. Needs are never realized while standing in the aisle of a store, flipping through the pages of a catalog, surfing eBay or watching television. You realize your needs in the normal course of life. You, not retailers or advertisers, should set your agenda. If you don't have a need, don't go shopping.
Assess the true cost. When you spend compulsively, you're doing more than giving in to temptation. If you are paying with credit, you're building debt. If you pay with cash, you're giving up the opportunity to put that money to work for you for the rest of your life. The money you spend plus the foregone interest represents the real cost of spending.
Seek accountability. It takes a great deal of courage and character to be accountable to another person for your actions and behaviors. Make a pact with your spouse or a friend. Set a dollar amount as your monthly or weekly allowance and agree that you won't spend more than that. Set boundaries and ask for help to keep to them.
Beating temptation is as rewarding as it is hard work. It takes commitment, tenacity and, for some, a great steam iron.
September 24, 2010
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