Tips to turn down shopping temptations

June 13, 2012 3:26:53 PM PDT
We've all done it -- gone to the store and splurged on something big or just spent too much money shopping. But a local expert says you can arm yourself with a simple phrase that will help you say 'no' and actually mean it!

There's always something that you just can't seem to pass up without spending extra cash. But there may be a secret to helping you save that money and one expert says it has a lot to do with changing "I can't" to "I don't."

With sales on every aisle and accessories in every color, it gets hard to resist temptation and say "No, I can't."

"I just randomly see things and I'm like 'I need that, and I need that,'" one shopper told us.

Shoppers like college student Drew Hollingshead says when he tells himself he "can't" spend the extra money, peer pressure takes over it.

"It's hard to walk past it and know that if your friend just had the newest iPod or he's got the newest game or something like that, you don't want to be made fun of," Hollingshead said.

But University of Houston Associate Professor Vanessa Patrick says you can help stop that.

"Change the way you deal with temptations," Patrick said.

Patrick studied ways to help consumers effectively say "no" and mean it.

"I don't think she's ever been to Target or Walmart before," Hollingshead joked.

She has and says with practice, you can say "no" there too. First, Patrick says you must change your words.

"What we suggest that instead of using 'I can't,' that you actually frame your refusal using the words 'I don't.' 'I don't' signals empowerment. It says, 'I'm in the driver's seat. I'm in control'"

For example, Patrick says you need to tell yourself, "Hey I don't make impulse buys, I don't buy stuff unless there's a special occasion, or I don't spend more than $50 at the mall." It would help you second guess that impulse buy.

Next, she says know your weakness...

"Once you figure out what those areas are, set some sort of budget, limits and say 'I don't do stuff beyond this,'" Patrick said.

Then take a stand.

"You do have to be firm, and you have to believe it. They are not words that work just because you say the words, they are words that work because you really want them to work," Patrick said.

Lastly, Patrick says it won't hurt to rehearse.

"It helps to kind of rehearse the strategy, to kind of tell yourself that you know this is me, I don't want to do this," she said.

Hollingshead plans to try it but worries.

"It's easier said than done," he said.

"It is simple but sometimes the best strategies are simple," Patrick said.

Professor Patrick says the "I don't" versus "I can't" method can apply to several different areas, including overspending. But her study actually focuses on resisting temptation when it comes to foods.

She says they researched it and women actually have a harder time saying no. But she says, among the women studied, when they change their words to "I don't," they feel more in control and are able to stick to "no."

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