This I Have Learned … Start Your Engines … And Welcome to the Holidays!

(Reprinted by permission from Extra Space Storage, Oracle Road)

Mary Jo Bellner Swartzberg

Like the tradition of spicy pumpkin pie or the memory of a crisp, colorful fall day, November ushers in the tradition of starting holiday shopping. Indeed, many of us have been preparing our holiday shopping list for weeks. It is a time for giving and receiving—stuff. It is also a time for overspending!

The website gives 10 glaring reasons for this issue. (This writer has inserted her comments as well.)

1. Consumers love the Cyber Monday and Black Friday sales. Merchants are aware of the fact that people have a tendency to overspend during the holidays. Further, merchants work on the premise of scarcity, with a limited number of items available. This leads to—yes, you guessed it—impulse buying.

2. Expectations and pride also drive holiday spending. If one does not see his/her family often—or not at all during the year—the tendency is to buy gifts that are expensive. Basically, just to impress.

3. Trying to be the perfect parents is also at work here. On any given day, during the holiday shopping season, parents are bombarded with need-to-buy toys and gadgets commercials. Hence—spend with abandon!

4. The convenience factor allows consumers to smoothly buy online any time of the day. Buying habits have been transformed by this method of shopping and, perhaps, to the detriment of consumers.

5. An obscure way some people overspend during the holidays is the result of over-imbibing. Not one glass of a spirit, but several, might take the sting out of an overused credit card. So, yes, drinking and browsing can be dangerous!

6. The psychology of shopping also plays havoc with the spending habits of consumers. Basically, some consumers shop with their hearts during the holiday season.

7. Trimmings. As in—planning a turkey dinner with all of the trimmings. It seems that we all plan our holiday dinners with an overabundance of food in mind. In which case, we overspend, resulting in a lot of waste.

8. Holiday propaganda? Pretty much. Service businesses—salons and spas—make sure that one needs to have the perfect look for the holidays. And, of course, clothing stores are counting on customers to find the most alluring outfit for the holidays. Think shop ‘til you drop!

9. Mind games might be at work during the holiday season as well. The need to purchase gifts more expensive than one can afford leads to a bit of—no, a lot of justifying on the part of consumers. The rationale of holiday spending is: Everyone is doing it and going to be broke later on anyway.

10. Guilt! Charities are depending upon consumers opening their hearts to the fullest extent. The only problem is that consumers, out of guilt, overextend their pocketbooks when they give to charities. Give, and give generously, is a good motto, but stay within the lines!

For in-depth details on this topic, go to