5 questions to stop the spending rush and save money

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  • Most shopping experiences are designed to make your purchase easier and to bring you back.
  • The financial planner suggests being more deliberate about buying and resisting the impulse to buy.
  • Ask yourself questions like whether you really need it or want it, if you already have it, and if you can afford it.
  • Find a financial advisor near you with SmartAdvisor.

The average American spends an average of $155 per month on impulse purchases, which anyone who has ever seen an Instagram ad hitting “buy” would believe without hesitation.

As a financial planner, I believe that impulsive purchases directly lead to increased spending. Unfortunately, most shopping experiences are designed to make you spend too much or keep coming back for more.

If you’re overspending, I recommend asking yourself five questions before clicking Buy or swiping your card at the register. These questions almost helped me eliminate impulse buying and kept my budget on track.

1. Do I really need this or do I want this?

Sometimes the answer to this question is obvious – if you’re on a tight budget and decide if you should buy a $350 vintage Monopoly, the answer is probably, “You don’t need this.”

However, deciding whether something is a need or a need is not always black and white. Some things that may seem superfluous to some people, like a gym membership, and others they just can’t live without. It’s all about balancing your current priorities with your long-term goals.

If I feel like I need an item, I usually write it down. I’ll take a picture with my phone, so when I’m out shopping I can check to see if it’s on my list. If I didn’t feel like I needed the item before, it probably isn’t on my list and is a wish, not a need.

2. Do I really own this?

There is a tendency to want to keep up with the neighbors, or own the latest and greatest items. This is especially made worse by social media – seeing your friend’s new car or exhilarating vacation can leave you feeling lost, prompting you to buy things you might not need or already own.

Whenever I think of buying something, I always ask myself if I actually own that item. If I had it and it’s in working condition, I’d skip the new item. If something I own breaks down, I’ll just throw it in then and there and put it on my list, so I’ll remember to buy it the next time I go out.

3. Do the benefits outweigh the costs?

Just because something is more expensive doesn’t mean it’s better quality. In fact, many expensive brands charge more for a similar quality product thanks to the branding or packaging. Studies show that we tend to value expensive items over their cheaper counterparts, known as the “marketing placebo effect.”

This does not mean that some things are not worth the money. For example, I will always pride myself on a quality mattress. But if you are discussing the purchase of something, consider some of the benefits that this commodity will bring you. If you don’t feel that these benefits will outweigh the cost, it’s not worth it.

4. Can I buy it used (or cheaper)?

I furnished my entire apartment with used furniture, and saved thousands of dollars.

While it takes a little extra effort, shopping can save you a lot of money instead of buying the first thing you see. Check marketplaces like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace for used items and larger retailers like Amazon to get an idea of ​​how much an item will cost. If you like to shop on a small scale and still save money, consider websites like Etsy that let you compare items from independent sellers.

Additionally, the time you spend searching for a better deal may help you discover whether or not you really need the item. I’m a big fan of sleeping on my buying decision (if you can) before buying. Most of the time, you will forget what you were thinking of buying in the morning.

5. Can I really afford it?

There is a difference between being able to pay for something and actually being able to afford it. Credit cards and financing options like Buy Now and Pay Later allow you to buy something and pay for it later. However, if you don’t have the money to cover your debt, you may end up paying late fees and interest, which can quickly turn into debt.

The last question I always ask myself is if I really can give The item, which means I can comfortably pay for it without running into problems with my budget or bills later. Even if you have enough money in your account to buy something outright, that doesn’t mean you should buy.

The purpose of asking yourself these questions before you buy is to be more deliberate in your spending. Taking some time to figure out if this is the right one for you, you can often remove the rush – I can’t tell you how many unnecessary purchases I’ve avoided this way.

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