Here are a few tricks that can help you keep more money in your wallet
Think about what you already have
The Rice University study asked one group of participants to describe an item they purchased, currently own, and have recently used.
The “recently used” aspect of this thought exercise seems to be an important factor in helping to reduce your interest in spending money on something new. The second group of participants was asked to make a plan to use items they already owned but had not used in some time, while a third group — the control group — was asked to do nothing.
Surprisingly, the participants in the first group, who had reflected on something they owned and had recently used, found their willingness to pay for something new reduced by 14 per cent compared to the control group. The planning group, despite having thought about the fact that they have items they are not using, saw their willingness to pay for a new item increase by about 6 per cent compared to the control group.
Practice gratitude as an antidote to impulse buys
However, buying something on impulse is, by definition, an emotional decision. So trying to counter that urge with a logical response is unlikely to work. It would be like trying to fight a fire with a single ice cube. Instead of trying to talk yourself out of an emotional decision using logic, you need to counter it with another emotion.
In particular, gratitude has been proven to reduce impulsive urges. According to a 2014 study published in Psychological Science, participants who were prompted to feel grateful showed a reduced level of impatience in waiting for a financial reward.
What’s likely going on here is the fact that impulse purchases are often an attempt to fill some sort of emotional void.
But gratitude is a nourishing emotion. It is difficult to feel an emotional void when you’re reflecting on how full your life is and how glad you are to have what is already yours.
How to make this practice work for you
The next time you’re facing down a display of day planners or dry erase boards (or whatever impulse purchases tend to tickle your fancy), take a moment to think about an item you already own. Specifically, try to remember:
How much you spent on it.
When and where you bought it.
What it looks like.
When you used it last.
How you used it.
What you enjoyed about using it.