Shopping can be a fun activity, no doubt. There’s so much to look at, so many items that promise to make life a little better…it can be hard to stay focused on what we need vs. what we want and on what we can afford.
But those impulse buys, even a new conditioner here and a spiffy new phone case there, have a way of adding up. That can leave you wondering why your credit card bill is so high and can derail your bigger-picture financial goals.
It’s OK to give in now and then and splurge on small treats, but it’s also wise to develop better buying habits so you don’t get in the groove of overspending.
Here, you’ll learn just how to do that. Read on for advice on fine-tuning your routine; you’ll see how to make smarter buying choices without feeling deprived.
9 Tips for Building Better Buying Habits
Here are nine tips for building better buying habits that can help those interested in becoming more mindful consumers.
1. Having a Financial Goal in Mind
Motivation is a wonderful tool. To kick off new buying habits people may want to think about what their financial aim is and what they want to save money for in the first place.
This could be as small as wanting to save money for a handbag they really want or to save up to go to a fancy restaurant instead of their usual haunt.
Or, it could be something much larger like saving for a vacation, a wedding, a home, or even for retirement somewhere down the line.
Having a financial goal might make it easier for consumers to prevent an impulse purchase or spend money on something they don’t actually need.
To double-down on this habit try writing down any and all financial goals in a notes app, diary, or even on a piece of paper. Then, stick it in a wallet so it’s with you wherever you go.
2. Giving Every Purchase — Big or Small — a Little Time
Sometimes all it takes to reverse a buying decision is to just sit and think about it for a second. Is this magazine really worth the read, or can the articles be found online? Is this new dress really all that great, and will it be worn more than once?
For larger purchases try to employ the “take a walk” method, which is to literally leave a store, go for a walk, and think about the item a bit more. This way, the initial adrenaline rush and excitement wear off just a bit so a consumer can clearly consider the purchase with fewer emotions attached.
Then, come back, look at the item again. If it still elicits butterflies then it could be worth the purchase. If not, that’s great. Confidently walk away.
If anyone is looking to take this habit to the next level, try employing the 30-day rule. Just as the name implies, those looking to purchase anything nonessential must put the product back on the shelf and step away for a full 30 days.
If at the end of that time he or she still wants the product badly enough they can then return and purchase knowing full well it will bring them a little more joy.
Here’s one more trick to try when using the 30-day rule. Over the 30 days, try saving little by little to purchase the item. At the end of the month, if you decide that product is no longer needed, that cash could be put right into savings.
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3. Coming Up With a Personal Spending Mantra
If taking a walk just isn’t an option, it may be time to come up with a personal spending mantra. Think things like “Keep the memory, get rid of the object,” or Marie Kondo’s, “Does this spark joy?”
Use Kondo’s phrases, or come up with a unique one to use before making any purchase. By repeating the phrase over and over again it will help determine if that object really deserves to take up space in your life and in your monthly budget.
4. Learning to be a Comparative Shopper
There’s so much information just a click away, you never have to settle for the first price tag you see. Finding a better deal could require just a quick online search.
To become a great comparative shopper, you can start small by investigating prices on everyday purchases like groceries. Try looking up a price comparison for milk between high-end grocery stores versus the neighborhood grocer. Then, think about monthly expenses like the internet, cable, telephone bills, and even things like gym memberships or subscriptions.
Can you find a better price for any of these items or negotiate the price down? Go for it and save along the way.
5. Falling in Love With Coupons and Discount Codes Again
Another better buying habit to adopt: Take a minute when shopping to find a few coupons to use in physical stores and discount codes to use online.
There are a number of coupon websites such as RetailMeNot and The Krazy Coupon Lady that can help shoppers hunt down a few discounts when they need them.
There are also services like Honey, which is a plugin you can add to your dashboard that will automatically scour the web for discount codes and plug them right in at checkout.
Long story short, don’t settle for the first price.
Recommended: Ways to Save Money on Clothes
6. Maintaining the Things You Already Have
A hole in a sweater, a scratched coffee table, and a tiny crack in a dish can be enough for some people to run out and purchase an entirely new item to replace the old.
However, rather than tossing something just because it’s a little faded it’s time to learn how to give things a new life. Or, find an expert who can.
For example, rather than buying all new shoes just because the tread is a little worn down, try bringing them to the local cobbler (aka shoe repair). They may be able to replace the thread for a fraction of the price of new shoes. This same idea goes for big-ticket items too.
Consider keeping a maintenance calendar for things like a car’s oil changes, a home’s roof inspections, and more. That way, things will always stay in tip-top shape for longer, and you may, say, save money on your car or home repair costs.
7. Understanding Shopping Triggers
To create better spending habits, it can be worthwhile to take a bit of time to self-reflect and discover why you like to spend money in the first place.
Do you suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out), spending and buying things because friends, family, or a favorite influencer is sporting it on social media?
Do you shop when bored, or are you triggered by something else? It can be important to delve into why you shop so you can avoid triggers that could lead to overspending.
Doing so could also help you reconcile any tendencies to be a compulsive or impulsive shopper.
8. Getting in on the Financial Buddy System
Everything’s better with friends — including creating better spending habits. Just look to working out for inspiration.
According to one landmark study by researchers at the University of Aberdeen, people who work out with a friend are more likely to hit the gym more often than those who choose to work out alone. That lesson can easily be applied to finances too.
Find a trusted friend or family member who can offer real advice when it comes to creating better buying habits.
Make a pact to call one another every time either of you needs a second opinion when it comes to making big purchases, or when you need someone to talk you out of making a silly purchase.
Don’t worry, odds are you’ll return the favor for your financial buddy in no time.
9. Knowing Where Money Is and Where It’s Going
A major part of creating better buying habits is understanding where your money is right now and where it’s going at all times. Don’t shy away from making a personal budget to see how much money is coming in and where it all goes. Budget tracking apps (perhaps provided by your financial institution) can help in this effort too.
Monitoring your checking account will also help you get in touch with your spending habits. Some people find checking in every couple of days a good move.
These moves can reveal patterns that you might be unaware of and also help you see where you might cut back on expenses. That, in turn, can free up some funds so you feel better about splurging when the opportunity arises.
SoFi Checking and Savings, a high interest bank account, can help you manage your cash better.
With our app, you can transfer money to pay bills directly online and track weekly spending right on the integrated dashboard. You can work towards savings goals with Vaults and Roundups. Plus, you’ll pay no account fees and earn a competitive annual percentage yield, which can help grow your money faster.
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