Poker teaches important lessons about saving and investing. Foreclosures are better than mortgage modification programs. Debit card overdraft fees are good for consumers. PMS is responsible for impulse purchases. There is no shortage of strange theories out there—and some of them are actually plausible.
1. Right now, you should be saving more and spending more—simultaneously. This is the basic (if conflicting) prescription for fixing the economy.
2. PMS made me do it. A survey reveals that women are more likely to make impulse buys in the ten days before their periods.
3. A quick self-affirmation increases self-control—and helps avoid impulse purchases. Studies by consumer psychologists show that when people take a moment to think about their core values in life, they have more control over what they do (and what they buy).
4. Debit card overdraft fees are good for consumers. This is an argument made by banks charging the overdraft fees, of course. The gist: Because banks make so much money off of a small percentage of customers hit with tons of overcharge fees, the rest of us who don’t incur overdrafts are able to get checking accounts and other services free of charge. Banks say if they weren’t reaping in the bucks through overdrafts, they’d have to start charging everyone for checking and other services.
5. Poker leads to financial wisdom. Managing your bankroll is supposedly akin to managing your savings, investments, and risk. Apparently, we’ve all got to learn when you hold ’em, when to fold ’em, when to walk away, and of course, when to run.
6. Free shipping is not always in your best interest. Consumers are total suckers for free shipping. Studies show that you’re four or five times more likely to make an online purchase if an item costs $5 but has free shipping as you are if the same item costs $2.50 and shipping costs $2.50.
7. Foreclosure proceedings, while expensive and time-consuming, are preferable to mortgage modifications. This is from the banks’ perspective, of course. But at some point, many homeowner find it is in their interest to simply walk away from their mortgages.
8. The $5 bill savings plan. In the November issue of Real Simple, a reader explains how he saved $2,000 for a family vacation to Cape Cod. He pays for everything in cash, and every time he received a $5 bill as part of his change, the fiver went into an envelope, then into a bank account that was separate from his main account—so he wouldn’t be tempted to dip into the $5 savings pile. Whatever works, right?
10. The sex-housework link. Studies show that the more housework husbands and wives do, the more likely they are to have sex (presumably with their spouses). Admittedly, this isn’t really about saving or spending, unless you count the money you’re saving by not spending it on a cleaning service. I suppose if you do employ a cleaning service, however, in theory you’re more likely to have an affair with the maid.