If you want more control over your impulse purchases, you don’t need to get a shock bracelet or freeze your credit card in a block of ice. You can curb your spending by learning to be more mindful about what you buy.
Here are a few savvy tricks that experts say can help you stay strong when you feel the pull to spend.
1. Fill up your cart, then walk away.
“I tend to shop online through apps, and I’ll put it in the cart and make myself wait a couple days, and if I really want it, it’s in the cart! Most apps will save your cart,” says Jina Etienne, a certified public accountant as well as a member of the AICPA Financial Literacy Commission.
This sleep-on-it approach works for Marian Rosin, a writer and comedy performer: “I used to tell myself if I still wanted it, I’d come back another day to buy it, and 99.999999999999999999 percent of the time I didn’t go back. Maybe even 100 percent. Laziness pays off.” Rosin estimates she’s saved herself hundreds per year by not going through with purchases.
2. Don’t let websites save your info.
Shopping websites will try to save passwords and other info for you to make your experience as frictionless as possible. Don’t let them.
“Not saving your credit card online can also help,” says Michal Strahilevitz, a marketing professor at Saint Mary’s College of California. “It will add a time lag as well as a bit of hassle to every purchase.”
If the purchase isn’t worth the hassle of reentering your credit card number, it probably isn’t worth the money, either.
3. Ask yourself if you can get it for free, for cheap or rent it.
Remember that what you want may already be available for far less than retail, or even for nothing. “I got a domed serving-room platter for cakes on FreeCycle, and I didn’t pay a dime for it,” says Etienne.
You can find more giveaways on neighborhood-based sharing communities like Buy Nothing and Nextdoor. And, these days, you can borrow books, e-books, audiobooks, magazines, newspapers, music, movies and even museum passes from your local library.
If you want to dress for less but you crave novelty, consider renting through a company like Rent the Runway.
4. Buy yourself a gift card to a store you frequent.
“A gift card that is at the same budget amount that you want to spend in a given period may help with self-control and budgeting if you stick to that gift card amount being all you spend at that store,” says Strahilevitz, adding that gift cards also help you keep track of spending automatically. “Multiple shopping instances add up, and you may not be aware of how much you spent over a given month.”
The foregoing is presented for informational purposes only and is not an endorsement of any company, product or service.
Lisa Ferber’s writing has appeared in Crain’s New York Business, Barron’s Penta, and Dow Jones Mansion Global.
By Lisa Ferber
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