Dr. Keith Albow on Coping With Stress of Extra Holiday Expenses

This is a rush transcript from "The Big Story With John Gibson and Heather Nauert," November 23, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GREG JARRETT, GUEST CO-HOST: A little nasty out there, with the high gas prices, a slumping housing market, record credit card debt and those tainted Chinese toys. It's already a nightmare for consumers and the holiday shopping season is only just beginning.

So how in the world do you handle the tempting blitz of holiday sales that could just drive you deeper and deeper into debt?

HEATHER NAUERT, CO-HOST: We're asking psychiatrist and FOX NEWS contributor Dr. Keith Ablow. Ok, so Dr. Keith, how do you handle it? You go out to the stores. There is so many good things that you want. How do you kind of keep it in check?

DR. KEITH ABLOW, PSYCHIATRIST: That's why you've got to set a limit early on. Because, you know what stores are set up for, temptation. They want to get you to the next level and they do it very effectively. But if you start now and say you know what, here's the most I would spend total for the holiday season, and then start subtracting the prices you have already paid, it will give you the proper anxiety to say wait a second, I can't go any further. We have already gone too far, so start with your max now. Look at how much you can actually spend.

NAUERT: So number one, set a budget.

ABLOW: Set your budget and do it now.

NAUERT: There are so many great things and as you say, stores really want to get you to buy those things. When you see something nice, you want to buy it for your loved one. Say you're willing to spend a little extra, what is all that about? What is the psychology of that? Why do people spend money that they don't have?

ABLOW: Look, first of all, I think you love your loved ones and so you would like to bestow upon them a gift that makes them happy. We all want to make each other happy. But here's another thing, I think a lot of ego gets wrapped up with this where you want to give that gift partly because you feel you are being judged. Here is a little insight from the doctor's practice. Nobody has ever come to me with any problem saying, you know what, the gifts I got this Christmas, they weren't quite what I thought, and I wonder if my sister really loves me.

NAUERT: Oh come on, that happens?

ABLOW: It's never happened in my office.

NAUERT: Never happened to you?

ABLOW: Never happened, 15 years of practice. Right! And so what I would say is the anxiety --

JARRETT: No, because I haven't been on your couch.

ABLOW: You're going to get exactly -- I know because you've been good that you're going to get exactly what you want this Christmas.

JARRETT: Get a lump of bull is what I'm getting.

ABLOW: But what I'm saying is the anxiety is in the givers eyes, not in the person who is receiving. That's why it's ok to literally call friends and family and say you know what, I have a rule this year, you're not to give me gifts this year. I'm only taking a limited gift to a charity. That's kind of like what I think maybe all of us should do.

NAUERT: Ok, so the onus should be on the individual to be the grown-up and say I love the idea of giving a gift but you know what, thank you, no this year. Like when some people go into their second marriages, and instead of gifts they say give money to the boys and girls clubs or something like that.

ABLOW: In first marriages, my wife and I this morning said, you know what, this Christmas having, you know we just had her birthday and my birthday. Even with our first marriage, still, we said, you know what, this year it's about the kids, so let's just give the gifts to the kids and that will be nice.

JARRETT: Could you call my wife on my behalf with that idea for me, thank you?

ABLOW: She has already told me what she's getting you. It's very nice. It's going to blow your mind.

NAUERT: That's because she loves him a lot.

ABLOW: She wanted me to tell you so that you would kind of up the ante for her gift.

JARRETT: The culprit is unlimited credit in America invites procrastination, oh I'll worry about paying it later, instant gratification now.

ABLOW: Absolutely. So get another credit card just for Christmas and you'll watch it. Call every day as the amount goes up. You won't confuse it with your general balance and it will make you a little nervous.

NAUERT: Ok, Dr. Keith Ablow, thank you so much.

ABLOW: All right, thank you guys.

JARRETT: What am I getting, just whisper in my ear?

ABLOW: It's psychotherapy, with me. I'll spill the beans it's six sessions.

JARRETT: God, I need it. All right, Dr. Keith Ablow, thank you.

ABLOW: It's not what you really wanted, I know.

JARRETT: I could probably use it.

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