Avoid these 7 deadly financial sins

Halloween allows us to explore the darker sides of ourselves, inviting us to celebrate our sins without fear or repercussions. While these sins are typically limited to such harmless acts as having candy for dinner and scaring neighborhood kids with ghoulish outdoor displays, some behaviors can bleed into our daily lives and wreak havoc on our budgets.

[See: 8 Big Budgeting Blunders – and How to Fix Them.]

In the gospel of finance, the following shopping and spending behaviors are downright sinful and could land you in financial purgatory if you don't take active measures to avoid them.

Avoid these 7 deadly financial sins
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Avoid these 7 deadly financial sins

Greed. Considered one of the gravest of the cardinal sins, greed can get you into serious financial trouble and negatively impact your relationships. Whether it's a bigger house, fancier car or designer wardrobe, the desire for more, more, more will always burden your budget.

Shifting the focus to your "haves" from your "have-nots" is a good first step in conquering greed. In fact, a recent study found that the practice of gratitude has lingering positive effects and can make feelings of happiness and satisfaction more effortless over time.

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Sloth. Saving money isn't complicated, but it does require focus, commitment and hard work. Just ask anyone who has scaled back their spending to pay off debt or cultivated frugal habits to achieve a financial goal. Sloth, or laziness, is an avoidable sin thanks to the average consumer's instant access to information and digital tools to aid in saving money.

For example, mobile apps for couponing, comparison-shopping, price-checking and budget-tracking make it easier than ever to manage your spending. Digital tools, such as Mint, also make the process of creating a budget less daunting, resulting in a more mindful approach to your spending.

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Gluttony. The "high" associated with spending money can be a tough habit to sustain and break, which is why compulsive buying disorder, better known as "shopping addiction," is a bonafide condition. We've all experienced the thrill of a big shopping spree – and subsequent feelings of guilt and apathy once the novelty of the purchases wears off.

[See: 9 Scary Things Consumers Do With Their Money.]

While gluttony is associated with food and drink in the biblical context, it can easily be correlated to the habit of spending in excess. Consumers with actual disorders should seek help from professionals. Others can combat the behavior by identifying spending triggers and finding less expensive ways to deal with them. Simply unsubscribing from retail newsletters and unfollowing brands on social media can curb the impulse to buy from your favorite brands.

Envy. The never-ending "highlight reel" perpetuated on social media can make anyone susceptible to the sin of envy and can lead to poor purchasing decisions in pursuit of a similar lifestyle.

According to a study commissioned by the American Institute of CPAs, more than one-third of consumers researched a purchase – a product or vacation – after seeing a similar purchase shared by someone in their social media network. Consumers also follow celebrities on social media who, in addition to touting their expensive lifestyles, are often paid by brands to promote their products.

To avoid letting envy overtake your rational purchasing decisions, take a break from social media and focus your attention on activities that don't result in impulse buys. With Americans spending nearly two hours per day on social media platforms, this exercise can help you cultivate healthier habits like reconnecting with a loved one face-to-face.

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Pride. Being proud of your accomplishments is certainly not a sin. However, being too prideful about yourself and your lifestyle can result in financial ramifications. If you pride yourself on having the latest-and-greatest technology, for example, you're likely living lean after the launch of the latest Apple product or trending gadget.

[See: 11 Expenses Destroying Your Budget.]

Pride can also be a roadblock in pursuit of money-saving avenues, such as couponing, negotiating or requesting a price match. The fear of looking "cheap" can lead some consumers to avoid these activities to keep up appearances of financial solvency. Instead of concerning yourself with how others perceive you, focus your attention on cultivating healthy money habits, which can serve as inspiration to those around you.

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Lust. Like envy, the sin of lust is supported by both social media and a celebrity-obsessed culture in which excess is flaunted at every opportunity. The next time you're overcome with lust over an object, walk away and give yourself some space and time to breathe. Impulses are brief by nature and typically subside when the object of desire is out of sight.

The next time you find yourself in line to buy something you didn't expect to buy, give yourself 24 hours before you make the purchase. More often than not, the desire for the item will dwindle.

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Wrath. If you're unsatisfied with a purchase or experience, calmly explaining your feelings to someone rather than screaming and making a scene is far more effective. What's more, threatening to slander them on social media is wrathful behavior that will not result in what you want.

While being too nice can cost you, being rude and vengeful doesn't do you or your bottom line any favors, either. If a purchase experience has you seeing red, give yourself a few moments to calm down and determine your desired result. Before you pick up the phone or face a representative, find out what others have done to reach a successful resolution by conducting some online research. After all, knowledge and a clear head are a more effective duo than anger and vengeance when resolving a shopping or billing dispute.


Copyright 2016 U.S. News & World Report

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