Like any typical high-school girl, junior Samantha Matly likes to shop. With the start of each new season, as the weather changes, her wardrobe must be updated accordingly with the latest in fashionable clothes. Visiting the mall almost every week, Matly said she likes to look around for anything that stands out.
“If I find something cute, I’ll buy it,” Matly said. “I don’t like to wait a long time.”
Matly is not alone. According to a 2011 Newsweek article by Sharon Begley, our generation especially spends impulsively due to our desire for instant pleasure as opposed to saving for a greater gain further down the road. And in a digital world where we can get almost anything at a moment’s notice, it comes as no surprise that when we want something, we want it now.Robin Pletcher said via email that she believes that extreme spenders may be trying to satisfy their need for a type of “reward” or seeking some kind of pleasure through shopping.
“They don’t have sense of impulse control to delay the gratification they get from that immediate satisfaction from the purchase they make,” she said.
Begley’s article states that psychologists and behavioral economists identified the personality trait that distinguish savers from spenders: not accurately seeing the consequences of not saving.
According to Pletcher, the consequences of impulsive spending include money loss, increase in debt and the lack of saving behaviors learned. She said people would develop a “get what I want now” mentality instead of learning how to wait for something.
Although a study described in Begley’s article supported the link between impulse control and academic performance, Pletcher disagrees.
“(There are) too many other factors involved to make a correlation here,” she said. “I don’t think that if someone is an impulsive shopper, they have to be impulsive in other areas of their life. I think the two are separate behaviors.”
However, Pletcher said she agrees with the idea that people spend impulsively for instant gratification but believes that it also depends on financial availability and what kind of gratification the person is seeking.
“Maybe he/she just wants praise or recognition,” Pletcher said. “They might not necessarily need ‘things’ to buy.”
Junior Catherine Onofrey said she thinks of shopping as a social activity. On the weekends, she said she meets with friends to go to different stores.
“It’s kind of a way to get to know someone because everyone likes shopping,” she said.
Although shopping is enjoyable, Onofrey and Matly agree that one must be sure to carefully stay within one’s shopping budget.
Matly said her parents give her an allowance that she cannot pass “It depends on how expensive it is,” she said. “You have to control and budget what you want.”
While Onofrey goes shopping three to four times a week, she only spends about $40 a month; she goes in order to be with friends rather than for actual items. On the other hand, Matly, who shops four times less frequently, spends about $100 a month.
In contrast to those who spend uncontrollably, some people thrive on saving coupons and finding the best prices. However, many don’t realize that often, buying cheap, unnecessary things is still a waste of money.
“Some people thrive on finding good deals,” Pletcher said. “They buy multiple items of something they might not even need just because it’s ‘free.’ Also, you have those who will go out at 4:00 am the day after Thanksgiving to get the
Pletcher suggests, “I would first say to buy what you can afford. Too many people are too much in debt, and they’ve let themselves get into trouble due to spending it.”