Worried about ‘spaving’? Here are 4 ways to avoid overspending this holiday season

BOSTON — There’s a new term that describes the act of spending money to save money. It’s called “spaving” and it can cause us to go way over budget during the holiday shopping season.

“A lot of us are conditioned to hunt for deals and we can’t resist a sale. But if you’re spending money just to save money, it’s never a good thing,” said consumer adviser Andrea Woroch.

A recent study from YNAB found that 68% of Americans are more tempted to spend impulsively during the holiday season than any other time of year, and Woroch says this behavior can lead to crippling debt.

“‘Spaving’ is okay if it’s something you need, but if you’re doing it just to do it because you can’t resist a sale, that’s a big no-no,” Woroch said.


Retailers are coming at us from all angles, through email, texts, app alerts and social media. Woroch said the easiest way to dodge temptation is by unsubscribing from emails, opting out of text alerts, turning off push notifications in retail apps and unfollowing brands on social. Sites like Unroll.me can help you unsubscribe faster, she said.

“The best thing you can do is wipe those [alerts] away,” Woroch said. “[Targeted ads and emails] can cause you to buy things you don’t need. It causes a sense of urgency leading to overspending.”


Woroch says if there are certain stores you “spave” at more frequently than others, staying out of these stores may be necessary while you learn to overcome this bad spending habits. This doesn’t mean you have to give up these retailers for good, she said. Instead, Woroch recommends you buy online and choose curbside pick up to get what you need without facing tempting promos.

“Figure out which stores are causing you to ‘spave’ and just kill the temptation immediately by not even walking through the door,” Woroch said.


According to Woroch, the ultimate way to avoid “spaving” is to nix your credit card and only carry cash. If you’re worried about missing out on credit card perks, remember that there are other ways to earn rewards.

“There are countless studies that have been done that found people when they pay with cash spend less overall and are less likely to buy things they don’t need,” Woroch said.

Woroch said another idea is to wrap sticky notes around your credit card as a reminder of various goals you’re saving toward to help deter unnecessary spending.


One-click buying makes it all too easy to buy something without thought. Woroch says that often leads to regretful purchases. By simply deleting payment details stored in online retail accounts and social media, Woroch says you create a purchase hurdle that forces you to think through the actual purchase. By the time you get your credit card, she says you may realize the potential deal is unnecessary.

“If you’re shopping online, you can add it to your online cart, but then shut down your computer, turn off your phone and walk away,” Woroch said. “Sleep on it. Give yourself at least 24 hours to think about the purchase. Chances are the urge to buy will have passed and you will have saved yourself some good money.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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