Image: Holiday shopping
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Wrath: Shopping should be fun, so don't do it with a chip on your shoulder or you'll probably end up making bad gift choices.
updated 12/20/2010 7:31:12 AM ET 2010-12-20T12:31:12

James Bond creator Ian Fleming once wrote of the Seven Deadly Sins, "How drab life would be without these sins. What dull dogs we all would be without a healthy trace of many of them in our makeup."

But at levels that tend to spike during the holidays, the Seven Deadly Sins — a list that has been intent on keeping us on the straight and narrow since early Christianity — can not only ruin your Christmas shopping, but wreak havoc on your finances. Here is a sin-by-sin breakdown of why you must resist the urge to cave into human frailty while on the hunt for holiday gifts.

1. Wrath
Don't shop angry. If you hit the mall with a chip on your shoulder you're: a) defying the spirit of the season and, b) making yourself susceptible to bad choices. We don't know of anyone choosing a thoughtful, budget-friendly present with that so-and-so son-of-a-blank recipient in mind. Anger is now considered a potential mental illness by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. But don't let that be an excuse: We'd rather you keep your cool and be a healthy, happy giver.

More from 9 things to buy after Christmas

2. Greed
We want you to find the sweetest deals possible so you can buy more, more, more for less, less, less. In fact, it's our job to help you do just that. But there's a limit to just how much shopping you should be doing. If the search for everything — and we mean everything — on your families' holiday wish list means your credit card is seeing just a little too much action, you're missing the point. It's time to take a break and remember what the season is really about. After all, if you buy it all for them, what's there left to wish for?

3. Sloth
Gluing your bottom to the sofa to watch football will not win you any points with those on your shopping list. You're setting yourself up for a last-minute drive that will only produce disappointment — and an empty wallet. By squandering your time, you're losing the chance to search for the best deal. In desperation, you'll end up snapping up the first thing you can find and paying way too much for the privilege. Get up! Go shopping! Or go online and program in the score alerts, then get yourself to the mall. There, you're already a winner.

4. Pride
Is bargain-hunting beneath you? Then why are you reading this? Not bothering to educate yourself about the potential savings out there constitutes the deadliest sin of all: paying retail. One quick example to set you straight: After spending a quick two minutes online, we found the popular Justin Bieber Singing Doll — One Less Lonely Girl for $42.99 at Amazon and just $27.99 at Toys R Us. Anyone who would turn up their nose at a $15 savings deserves the fall after the pride. My 1st Christmas - Five stupid mistakes I made

Sex sells, right? Just don't let your libido take over your good sense. For example, this link provides a peep, er, view, of an S&M scenario featuring a bound and nearly naked man held captive by a woman in spiked heels. Porn, you think? Nope, it's an ad for a vacuum cleaner. And so you imagine buying your honey a vacuum cleaner with thoughts of getting kinky later. For the love of St. Nick and the hundreds of dollars you're about to waste, do not be seduced. It's a cleaning appliance, not foreplay.

6. Envy
German philosopher Immanuel Kant once said that envy "disciplines us to see our own good overshadowed by the good of others." If Kant were writing for a personal finance website, he'd say simply, appreciate what you have and stop wanting and buying what others have. It's bad for your wallet. It's bad for your soul. The average credit card debt has climbed to $15,788. You can bet your bottom dollar that the average goes up during the holidays, when we're ferociously trying to keep up with the Joneses and eyeing that supposedly greener grass on the other side.

7. Gluttony
Seasonal stress eating will land you in the time-sucking, health-zapping void of a mall food court when you should be getting presents. If you can't keep your mitts off that $4, 730-calorie Cinnabon, how can you be trusted to shop in the most economical, efficient and thoughtful way? Retailers for a cause — Big brands that are giving back Hurry up! 10 things to buy before end of the year

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Video: Holiday shoppers cautiously open wallets again

  1. Closed captioning of: Holiday shoppers cautiously open wallets again

    >>> from chaos at the airport to the shopping malls here at home, the the holiday rush is on. shoppers were out in force this last weekend before christmas. that may be good news for a fragile economy. our report from nbc's kevin tibbles.

    >> reporter: if you notice the main streets and the malls are busier this holiday season , you're not alone.

    >> there's good store deals out there, so you can get a little bit more for your money.

    >> reporter: across the country shoppers are out in droves.

    >> i'm using cash, so i'm spending what i anticipated on spending.

    >> reporter: at the tyson's corner mall outside washington, d.c., they're buying but they're buying smart.

    >> i don't think i'll buy a lot of nonsense. i'll personalize them or buy one big gift or something personal.

    >> in the prior years consumers were more need based and reserved and cautious with the shopping. people are having fun again this year. it's nice to see.

    >> reporter: retail sales this season have exceeded expectations so much so the national retail federation has increased its forecast to 3.3%, and they say it's being driven by consumer confidence . the federation says the the floodgates have opened at least a little and consumers are once again opening their wallets. what are they buying? clothing. sale of apparel is up for the season. jewelry sales are up 2.6%. sporting goods , hobby, book and music sales have increased 2.3% and many are foregoing the mall for online shopping . e-mer e-commerce is up 13.5%.

    >> inventories need to be replaced next year. retailers doing relatively well might be more likely to keep on the seasonal hires that they did.

    >> reporter: even on a chilly sunday in the windy city , there are plenty of shoppers and shopping bags along michigan avenue 's magnificent mile .

    >> it feels like more people than last year.

    >> reporter: after a hard recession that put the american consumer on the endangered species list , this christmas the shopper appears to be back. kevin tibbles, nbc news, chicago.


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