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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?