The thing is that a big part of saving money has to do with exerting willpower and self-control, which you have a limited amount of. It’s helpful to think of willpower as a resource that is easily depleted. Here are some ways you can manage your self-control with spending so you can stay on track with your goals.
Create points of friction when shopping
When it comes to curbing your impulses while shopping, the odds are against you. Retailers dump a lot of research and money into understanding consumer behavior to get you to put items in your shopping cart and push the “purchase” button. They work hard to remove points of friction, or things that might get in the way of you buying something, to create a frictionless experience. This keeps shopping easy and pleasant so you willingly dole out those dollars.
To prevent caving in to these forces, set up barriers when shopping. For instance, while shopping online, leave things in your shopping cart and come back in a day. Or, if you’re in a store, put items on hold and wait a day. Is it worth it to trek back to the store to make that purchase? Or try only buying half of the things you initially wanted. Sometimes the thrill of putting items in your cart is all you need.
Emotionally monitor yourself
Impulse shopping when you’re tired or cranky can lead to poor decisions or overspending. And if you’re using shopping as a form of retail therapy, you most likely will buy things you don’t need. To avoid suffering from regret, keep yourself in check by coming up with a list of free or inexpensive things you can do to boost your mood. Maybe going on a hike or a phone call with a close bud will do the trick.
It also helps to know what times during the day you are most alert and cogent. Maybe you’re like a windup toy in the morning and your senses are acute in the day, but your brain turns to slush as the day wears on. If that’s the case, try shopping earlier in the day.
Or didn’t get enough sleep last night? Suffering from a hangover? If your brain feels like muck, you’re apt to have poor judgment and have trouble regulating your impulses, and that can spill over to your spending.
Try batch spending
To curb impulse buys, try batch spending, where you create a 30-day list of items you have your eye on. On your list you can put helpful notes such as the estimated price and just how badly you want it. Wait 30 days if you can, and after that wait period, see how you feel. Then group your items and buy these groups of items in batches. If you have an account with us, you can set up a Goal to save up for a mini shopping spree. That way, you’ll purchase things that have a purpose and with a focused intent.
Go on a fiscal fast
If you’re up for a challenge, go on a fiscal fast to save some beans. Fiscal “fasts”, or restricting your spending heavily, are a great way to reassess what your true essentials are. You may be surprised at what you discover about your spending habits and material needs.
Figure out how long you’ll want to go on a fast, and what—if any—items you are allowed to buy. For newbies, a one-week fast is a decent amount of time. The key is to not spend any money, so try not to stock up right before you go on a fast. And to stay motivated during a fast, get creative with coming up with new uses for existing items, or unique combinations of food for meals. Ask your friends or significant other to participate.
It’s important to remember that saving isn’t about being deprived, it’s about making sound decisions and purchases that add value to your life and sync up to what’s really important to you. By employing basic tricks and know-how in exercising willpower, you’ll be able to curb your impulses like a champ.
Disclaimer: Hey! Welcome to our disclaimer. Here’s what you need to know to safely consume this blog post: Any outbound links in this post will take you away from Simple.com, to external sites in the wilds of the internet; neither Simple nor our partner banks, The Bancorp Bank and BBVA Compass, endorse any linked-to websites; and we didn’t pay/barter with/bribe anyone to appear in this post. And as much as we wish we could control the cost of things, any prices in this article are just estimates. Actual prices are up to retailers, manufacturers, and other people who’ve been granted magical powers over digits and dollar signs.