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6 ways to keep your wallet merry

Concordia psychology student Mehreen Diwan offers holiday-friendly budget advice
December 13, 2017
By Danielle Gasher

Mehreen Diwan’s research shows impulsive shopping may be prompted by a need to reduce tension. Mehreen Diwan’s research shows impulsive shopping may be prompted by a need to reduce tension.

For shopping enthusiasts, the holidays can be a dangerously tempting time of year.

Mehreen Diwan, an undergraduate student in the Department of Psychology, studies the science behind shopping addiction, and our impulses to buy, buy, buy.

This season, as we’re bombarded with messages to purchase things we may not need, Diwan offers up some advice for how to survive the holidays without blowing our budget.

Buying lapses are often preceded by boredom

Tell us a bit about your research

Mehreen Diwan: My research in professor Roisin O'Connor's lab on shopping addiction examines whether certain personality traits can predict maladaptive shopping behaviour.

Students are often on tight budgets, but as we know, holiday shopping prices aren't always budget-friendly. Do you have any tips for saving money?

MD: My first tip would be to set your budget before making a generous list of people to go shopping for. After your budget has been established, determine the amount you would like to spend on each person.

Another helpful tip is to do all your holiday shopping in cash. Credit cards are known to create an illusion in our minds that we have more money than we actually do. Once the cash runs out, it's time to leave the mall.

Lastly, it is important to remind yourself that commercial presents are not necessary for everyone on your list. For example, some people would prefer a home-cooked meal over a new pair of socks. 

The downtown campus is right beside many stores. Do you have any advice for avoiding after-class shopping temptations for students? 

MD: According to past studies on pathological buying, buying lapses are often preceded by boredom. A great way to eliminate after-class shopping temptations is to eliminate the amount of free time you have.

If you’re a shopaholic, be sure to minimize your breaks to 15 minutes between each class. If you happen to have a break that lasts longer than 15 minutes, prepare a list of things you can do instead of hitting the stores. Some great examples of productive distractions are studying, grabbing a coffee with a friend, or squeezing in a quick workout at Le Gym

Are there stores students should avoid altogether?

MD: This depends on the person. Shoe shopping is my guilty pleasure, so I know to avoid any type of shoe store, whether they sell running shoes or high heels. However, if someone else's guilty pleasure is makeup, they should avoid any department store or drugstore.

Find out more about the Department of Psychology.



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