KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – When you go shopping, do you make impulsive purchases without giving much thought to the price, only to ask yourself later why you bought it?
Keep a list
Turning the pattern around involves changing habits adding some strategies and skills to help you curb impulse spending. First using a list keeps you focused. Write down what you need, take that to the store, and do not buy anything that’s not on the list. It might be wise to create two lists: groceries and to-dos. Keep the lists on the fridge, in an app or other central location. Making lists clears your head and helps calm you when you’re on overload.
Give yourself a cooling off period
When you get the urge to buy, give yourself a cooling-off period – an hour, a day, a week. This is the time to procrastinate. It’s a chance to come to your senses or make certain the item you want is something you can afford and that truly contributes to your life.
Shop with cash
Next, shop with cash and leave the plastic at home. It’s easier said than done, right? Take enough cash to purchase what you need and no more. You can’t spend what you don’t have. How much we tend to spend when paying with cash versus credit cards has been studied. An often-quoted Dun & Bradstreet study concluded that people spend 12 to 18 percent more when using credit cards instead of cash.
Take photos and look up reviews
Take a photo of the thing you think you can’t live without. Photograph the price tag, too. Don’t buy yet. Bring your photos home and use them for comparison shopping online and to help you think about the purchase. Go online and look up users’ reviews to see what they have to say about the product you want. If reviewers give it low marks, it might not be worth buying.
Don’t be tricked by sales
We all know this, and yet it’s hard to remember. Buying something on sale that you don’t need doesn’t save money. It’s a form of overspending. Instead of aimlessly cruising sales, plan your attack by reading ads. Decide in advance what you’ll buy, then get in and get out.
Check your closet
If you have a shopping problem, you probably also have a closet problem — as in you’ve got more stuff in there than you need or use. Satisfy your hunter-gatherer impulses by trying on clothes you haven’t worn in a while, finding new looks and combinations.
Control your emotions
Finally, watch your feelings when out shopping. Behavioral experts say being upset or angry can make you vulnerable to overbuying. When you find you’re overwhelmed, sit down and relax, or take a walk, breathing deeply until you gain focus.
Be willing to go home and put off shopping for another day or get the two or three items you need most, and get out of the store.