We’ve all been there. Standing in the checkout line at the grocery store, waiting patiently to check out. Suddenly, you see it—the candy bar of your dreams. So, of course, you add it to your cart.
Then, you see they’ve got that chapstick you like, and the magazine you enjoy reading, and oh yeah, you most certainly need that greeting card just in case someone’s birthday is coming up.
And yet, somehow, at the end of it all, you wonder why your grocery bill was so high this week.
It’s OK to give in every now and then and buy a little treat here or there, but, over time, these buying habits could get someone in trouble. And quickly. That’s why it may be a good idea to start developing better buying habits as early as possible.
Becoming a more prudent shopper and honing in on any potentially troublesome spending habits doesn’t have to be difficult either. All shoppers need to do is follow a few basic life tips and they will be on their way to saving, and making smarter buying choices, in no time flat.
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 the person decides that product no longer needed, that cash could be put right into savings.
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
Here’s the really good news about living in 2020: We live in the digital age, where information is just a click away. That means consumers likely never have to settle for the first price tag they see as finding a better deal could require just a quick Google search.
To become great comparative shoppers consumers can start small by investigating prices on their 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
Again, consumers simply do not have to settle for the first price tag they see. A better price can likely be found by utilizing the comparison shopping habit above, or by finding a few coupons to use in physical stores and discount codes to use online.
There are even services like Honey , which is a plugin all consumers can add to their internet 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.
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.
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.
7. Understanding Shopping Triggers
To create better spending habits consumers may have to take a bit of time to self-reflect and discover why they like to spend money in the first place.
Do they suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out) spending and buying things because their friends, family, or favorite influencer is sporting it on social media?
Do they buy things when they are happy, sad, bored, or triggered by something else? It can be important to delve into why a person may be triggered to buy something so they can avoid it in the future.
At the very least, even being aware of the trigger could hopefully help people think twice about a purchase before it is made.
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 a 2016 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.
Luckily, that’s a fairly easy proposition thanks to products like SoFi Money®. SoFi Money, a mobile-first cash management account, allows users to do just about anything with their cash at all times.
On the app, users can transfer money when they need to pay bills directly online, and track weekly spending right in the app’s integrated dashboard.
In the app, users can create better buying habits by setting up specific budgets and savings goals (see tip number one in case you forgot) using Vaults.
(Not sure where to start on creating a budget? Don’t worry, we’ve got your back on that too.)
SoFi members gain access to SoFi Relay®, where they can track all their incoming and outgoing cash, set up goals, and ensure they aren’t spending above their means.
The best part? SoFi Money comes with no account fees.
SoFi Money is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . Neither SoFi nor its affiliates is a bank. SoFi Money Debit Card issued by The Bancorp Bank. SoFi has partnered with Allpoint to provide consumers with ATM access at any of the 55,000+ ATMs within the Allpoint network. Consumers will not be charged a fee when using an in-network ATM, however, third party fees incurred when using out-of-network ATMs are not subject to reimbursement. SoFi’s ATM policies are subject to change at our discretion at any time.
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