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Time Out in the Naughty Corner
By Mary Hunt – Everyday Cheapskate
Americans are up to their eyeballs in credit-card debt, much to the delight of lenders everywhere.
Despite student loan debt surpassing credit-card debt, the average credit-card debt per household with credit cards is $14,788, at 16.82 interest. The majority of card-carrying Americans cannot seem to say “no.” Temptation is everywhere, as is the pressure to keep up.
The problem is that we are shortsighted. We make spending decisions based on emotion, not calculated reason. Why else would any sane person walk into Costco needing only milk, eggs and cheese and walk out with a lovely piece of Waterford crystal, too? It’s that sense of urgency plus the ability to have it now and pay for it later that’s given us the label: Overspent Americans.
We must take responsibility for our behaviors and personal discipline. Of course, some of us have temperaments that are more conducive to a mind-blowing spending spree, but so what. That does not mean we shouldn’t do all we can to control that kind of behavior. Supernanny would not approve.
If you’ve seen an episode of the hit television show “Supernanny,” you know a little something about the “naughty corner.” It’s a place where a firm yet loving adult places a misbehaving child who failed to heed the one obligatory warning, and who must remain to reflect on the offense—one minute for every year of age.
The naughty corner requires the offender to be physically removed from the conflict to think about his behavior. Of course, on the show, “reflection” is more like wailing and gnashing of teeth, but that makes for good TV.
Remarkably, the naughty corner always wins, and just in time for Supernanny to speed away to help another family in crisis.
If you are prone to behaving badly, it’s time to find yourself a naughty corner—a place to take a time-out when you’re tempted to spend compulsively and your behavior is out-of-control.
The rules are simple. At the moment you sense things are spinning out of control, give yourself a single warning as Supernanny would advise—a firm and clear command to “stop!” If this does not immediately reverse the behavior, march yourself straight to the naughty corner for a much-needed time-out.
Once you have removed yourself from the site of the temptation, ask these questions:
- Do I need it, really?
- Will this make my life better or add to the chaos and clutter?
- Do I already have something that will do just as well?
- Do I have the cash to pay for it right now?
- Am I willing to sleep on my decision for 48 hours?
Just those few minutes in the naughty corner will put the brakes on out-of-control spending. Nine times out of 10, once you contemplate your behavior you’ll end up walking away from the temptation empty-handed—and you’ll be happy about it.
And if you adhere to the age rule, you might get a nap out of the deal.