Lending Club Blog

Catalog Shopping Concerns

The popularity of catalogs seems to have declined as more and more people shop online. Even with diminishing usefulness, catalogs still do exist and may lead to overspending. Understanding why this occurs, and limiting your encounters with such experiences, may help you to spend less.

Catalogs help to blur the line between wants and needs. How often have you realized how much you “need” something only after you learn of its existence? Exposing yourself to new products by thumbing through catalogs adds incentive to buy things that you really don’t need. In a recent episode of “How I Met Your Mother,” character Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris) laments that whenever he gets upset he shops from the Sky Mall catalog to fill the void. Having looked at the catalog on many flights, I can imagine how people would be tempted to purchase the wonderful-looking products advertised.

The Internet has revolutionized the banking industry with peer-to-peer lending and has transformed the shopping industry as well. One of the nice aspects of shopping online is that unlike a catalog or brick and mortar business, which can entice you with items, shopping on the Internet limits such exposure. Sure, sites like Amazon.com may suggest related products or products bought by other customers that may have similar interests to you, but they typically only show you a handful of extra products. Browsing a catalog, or walking through a mall, will place hundreds of products before your eyes.

Bridging the gap between the real and virtual world is Google catalogs. There, you can browse catalogs on your computer without the negative environmental impacts of using an actual catalog.

Browsing catalogs is a useful way to get a gift idea for someone who may be difficult to shop for. In these instances, finding a product in your price range that fits the recipient’s likes, and was beyond your realm of awareness, may be a great way to shop. When looking for yourself, however, browsing catalogs more likely just gets you to buy stuff that you could easily live without. Avoiding exposure to the products in the first place may be a useful way to cut back on your impulse spending.

Friday, May 30th, 2008 at 9:13 am

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