Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Improving Your Spending Habits


We’ve all made purchases we ended up regretting. Here are a few tips to help you improve your spending habits and avoid buyer’s remorse:


  1. Don’t rush it. This is especially important to remember when you are looking to buy a home, vehicle, or other big ticket item.  If you are moving to a new area, you would be wise to rent for 6 months or so as you learn more about the area and its neighborhoods.  Great deals will come and go; don’t make a quick decision if you aren’t given the chance to be sure it is the right home for your family.  For a car purchase, be sure to allow enough time to do your homework and inspections on the car before you spring to make the purchase.  The same advice goes for smaller purchases – don’t buy a $100 pair of pants that you only “sorta” love just because you are in a hurry to get home from the mall.   Also, you can find reviews of most products, such as home electronics, online to help you choose the best one – do your research so you get your money’s worth!
  2. Be aware of store psychological tactics. Companies study consumer psychology and they know how to make you do what they want.  For example, the “deals” on the ends of the aisles usually are in fact NOT the best deals.  Also, the placement of the essentials (like milk and eggs) in the back corner of the store is made with the intention of making you walk through the bakery and deli to see all the delicious food.  Likewise, the clearance items are almost always located at the back of the store.  And the better deals within the aisles are above or below eye-level, where most people focus their attention.  If you are aware of their tactics, you won’t be fooled and you’ll know how to get the better deals in the store!
  3. Shop with a plan. Basically, make a list and stick to it.  Study the grocery ads ahead of time (most stores post their weekly ads online) and add sale items to your list.   Make a meal plan for the week before you shop to reduce the amount of food that goes unused and wasted.  If you are the “recreational shopping” type that likes to shop for the social experience, you should at least set a spending limit before you go.
  4. Don’t go grocery shopping on an empty stomach. When you come hungry, your appetite will tempt you to deviate from your shopping list.
  5. Give it a few days. When I really, really want something and I know it’s not a necessity, I try waiting a few days or weeks.  I usually forget about it, or realize that the want was more of an impulse and I don’t really want it that badly after all.
  6. Don’t shop when you’re sad or depressed. Emotions often cause people to make rash spending decisions.   Try not to use shopping as a way to try to feel happier or better about themselves; rather, try other methods of dealing with the blues.

Image: Pixomar

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