Dealing with Products that Tug At Your Heart Strings to Loosen Up Your Purse Strings

Everybody wants a piece of your money. Over the years marketing gurus have perfected the art of reaching out to your emotions to get to your purse. Even men immune to emotional tugs are no longer safe. The marketing geniuses seem to have figured out that "the way to a man’s wallet is through his wife’s heart":) Here, take a look at these crafty gift ideas. The first one is bag of customized M&Ms, where you can have your personalized message imprinted on one side of the M&Ms! Just in time for Valentine’s Day! The second is a "diapergram" where you gift the new mom with a bushel of – get this – diapers with custom messages on them. The ones I saw had the baby’s name printed on it. Yes, your bundle of joy can now poopie in a diaper with his/her name on it. Literally!

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So what do you do when you are faced with the "cute" products that reach out to your heart and whisper "buy me"? Well, I am not going to say resist it. Really, I’m not. Just like other aspects of your life, even in your financial life all work and no play makes jack a dull boy. Sometimes, you have to indulge, just for the heck of it! Sometimes, you need to have some fun. But wait, before you amble over and introduce that brand spanking new credit card to the wonder of online shopping, ask yourself these three questions.

Will this product really ADD value to my life/relationship/etc.?
Try to sort the emotions from actual product. Will the "cute-fied" product add value to your life or relationships? Will it boost your love life? Will it help your friend get through a rough patch? Will it help a colleague smile through the first few difficult days of being a new mom? If you find that the new product adds some value, then it may be worth a buy. But, if the recipient of the gift it just going to think "what a cheesy gift" and dump it in the thrash can the moment you're out the door, or if the gift can only retain its cute-value for about 10 seconds, it’s probably not worth shelling out your hard earned shillings.

Am I willing to give up something else to get this product?
Now, for the true test of the worth. Let’s take the example of the M&Ms. Suppose you strongly believe that your sweetheart will pledge his/her undying love to you for all of eternity when you gift that bag of M&Ms. And you really want to buy it. What are you willing to give up in exchange for it? Look at your budget (you do have a budget, right?) and see what you can strike off to divert money to buy this gift. Remember, it’s a whim. It’s an unexpected, unplanned expenditure. While I believe that some impulsive buying and indulgences are healthy for your personal life, they should not come at the cost of throwing your financial life off the track. So, if you really want to buy that gift, then you should be able to give up something else for it. If you can’t bring yourself to give up something for it, you probably don’t want it bad enough. Save it for the next whim-attack.

Have I been indulging my whims too often?
In my case, most whims fizzle out in the previous stage. When a few of them get past that stage and I have decided to buy it, I will look at my past record of whim indulgence. It’s not something I write down and track diligently. It’s just something I look back on. If I am doing this too often, check if there is a pattern emerging. Am I really giving up something to indulge my whims, or did I just rationalize my way out of it. If so, then it’s time to acknowledge that I might have compulsive shopping problem and deal with it. On the other hand, if I have been buying something on a whim very often, and proving that I really need it by foregoing something in my budget, then my budget probably needs to be modified. But if there are no red flags, no record of indulging too often, go ahead, shop to your little heart's content. Enjoy the pleasures small materialistic things can bring. It's these little things that make life beautiful :)

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