A wallet with a lot of cash in it  (Jose Luis Pelaez Inc | Getty Images)

Feeling frustrated--not happy--with your big holiday splurges? That's probably because wanting something makes you happier than actually having it, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

Researchers surveyed 788 people and found that more materialistic people--shoppers who put more than an average emphasis on buying new things--felt happy before the purchase, but experienced a steep satisfaction decline within a week after bringing their acquisition home. What gives? The higher the unrealistic expectations you put on that new car, blazer, or top-dollar golf driver, the more you'll be let down by those things, says study author Marsha Richins, Ph.D., a professor of marketing at the University of Missouri.

1. Wait a Day
"When you get an impulse to buy, you're flooded with emotions and endorphins, and that overrides your ability to think logically," says Paul Hokemeyer, Ph.D. a senior clinical advisor and addiction treatment specialist at Caron Ocean Drive. And while it may seem like a no-brainer, giving yourself 24 hours before you pull the trigger on even relatively small purchases can help you make wiser decisions. In that time, your emotions can clear away and the cognitive function of your brain can come back into focus, Hokemeyer says. Ask the store to set it aside for you so you can come back later, or simply buy it online.

2. Consider the Years
Many shoppers in the Journal of Consumer Research study felt that buying something would be "transformative" to their life in some way. Don't expect to suddenly become a better human being, but the more use you'll get out of your new item, the better you'll feel about laying out the dough. Use these guidelines from Farnoosh Torabi, the host of "Financially Fit" on Yahoo, and author of Psych Yourself Rich: Buy clothes that look like they'll stay in style and hold up for at least 2 years, and count on outerwear and office shoes to last at least 3 years. (Running shoes, of course, depend on mileage--replace those between 300 and 500 miles.) And even with the fast pace of technology, you shouldn't have to replace electronics like your computer and home entertainment setup for 3 to 7 years after purchase.

3. Reach for Cash
Instead of pulling out your debit or credit card, bring cash only when you're shopping for splurge items. One Cornell University study found that people spent 43 percent less when they had to use paper bills to pay, because it was more psychologically "painful" than swiping plastic. Even better: Carry large bills. "The bigger the bill, the harder it is to break," says Torabi. If you're still willing to give up that nice crisp $50, that's a good sign you'll be happy with your new purchase. Can't figure out why your savings account isn't growing?