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by Jean Chatzky

If you’ve ever been on a diet — whether to lose five pounds or 50 — you know that sometimes, you have to give in to that craving for one slice of molten chocolate fudge cake in order to avoid eating the whole cake.

Splurging and saving

At least, that’s the case for me. I always just assumed it worked the same way for other people — and a study out recently in the March issue of the journal Steroids, proved me right. Researchers put 144 obese people on one of two diets. Total calorie counts were identical, but one group received dessert — their choice of chocolate, cookies, cake or ice cream. Though an initial 16-week testing period showed little difference, in a subsequent 16 weeks those in the dessert group lost an additional 13 pounds on average. The other group gained back nearly all they had lost.

The results made me wonder: Is the same true for spending money? Can a well-timed splurge help you reach your savings goals? The answer turns out to be complicated, says Dr. Jim Prochaska, the founder of Pro-Change Behavior Systems (and, full disclosure here — my partner in my online program The Debt Diet).

“You can say, ‘I’m going to get it out of my system, and get some pleasure and relief,’ but you have to also say you won’t go back and do it again tomorrow,” says Prochaska. “You want it to be a lapse instead of a relapse.”

www.StLouisHomesByGina.com The Gina Koerner Team