Did you make a resolution to either save money or lose weight in 2009? Well, if you can’t tell the difference between necessity and luxury, you’re in for a big challenge. CNN interviewed Kelly Haws, a professor of marketing at Texas A&M University. One day, she noticed a colleague who’d sworn off sweets enjoying a chocolate doughnut. The doughnut, he told her, didn’t count as a sweet because it was “breakfast food.” By calling it breakfast, the dieter had turned the doughnut into a necessity.
So, she and another colleague conducted a study and they found that people who have a hard time with self control often re-categorize luxuries – such as a morning donut – as necessities. As a result, they wind up getting further and further from reaching their goals. In the study, some of the necessities people cited included daily lattes, bottled water and hair coloring treatments. Haws says to have a solid chance of meeting your ultimate goal, there have to be hard and fast rules from day one. You need to examine the necessity and luxury categories, and weed out questionable choices.
For example, some people spend a couple hundred dollars on hair highlights, calling them an absolute necessity, but in truth - they’re not. A haircut is a better example of a necessity, but all the bells and whistles that go along with it are luxuries. Haws says you must be honest about categorizing. If you want to accomplish that goal of saving money, the highlights should go, or do them at home. Same goes for that daily latte, since most people can get coffee for free at work, or make it at home for much less. Kentaro Fujita, an assistant professor of psychology at Ohio State University, agrees. He says people are good at justifying temptations. In fact, if you’re creative about it, you can probably justify every indulgence, but doing this will only lead to failure. To stay on track with a resolution, he offers this advice: The moment that you’re having the dilemma, remind yourself of your bigger goal. If what you want in that particular moment doesn’t support it, you don’t need the item. Case closed.