Bad Buying Habits and How to Break Them
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Bad Buying Habits and How to Break Them

Posted on Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011 at 2:42 pm
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Do you find yourself overspending, no matter how hard you try not to? Overspending is an easy habit to fall into, but there are ways to break those nasty buying habits associated with overspending.

First, Separate “Needs” from “Wants”

Before you make a purchase, you need to take a moment to distinguish whether the item in question is a “need” or a “want.” That is, do you absolutely need to buy it to survive? Is it crucial to your well-being? Is it replacing something that is gone or broken? If you answer no to questions like these, it’s probably just something you want. Then you must decide how badly you want it, if it’s worth the price, if there is something else you need to spend the money on instead, how purchasing the item will affect you, etcetera. You might find stepping away from your potential purchase and contemplating for a moment will stop you from making a lot of impulse buys because, frankly, its sometimes easier to walk away than to convince yourself why you need to buy something.

Think Down the Road

If you find yourself overspending on the little things, like Starbucks and nick-knacks at the check out stand, then you might be able to cut back by setting long-term goals. Think of a big-ticket item you really want, like a new car or a vacation, and put the money you would otherwise widdle away on the little things in a savings jar for that big-ticket item. You’ll be surprised by how much you save!

Always Shop with a List

I’m sure you’re sick of hearing how important shopping lists are, but this is a crucial part of staying on track and avoiding impulse buys that lead to overspending.

Never Shop with a Cart

Well, never say never. What I mean is don’t shop with a cart unless you’ve already planned a big shopping trip (with your shopping list of course!) Shopping carts seem to keep growing, inviting you to fill them with more and more stuff you probably don’t need. You can avoid this temptation before stepping foot in the store by grabbing a hand basket instead.

Set a Shopping Budget and Pay in Cash

Figure out your shopping budget beforehand, then take only that amount of cash with you to the store. Leave the credit cards and check books behind. This way, you won’t be able to overspend, even if you try to.

Stop Impulse Buys Before They Happen

You can stop impulse buys by asking similar questions as in the “needs” and “wants” dilemma. If you see something you like, but didn’t plan on buying (aka, an impulse buy) then force yourself to take a day or two to think about the purchase. If you spend all day thinking about it and it’s in your budget, then you can go back for it. However, in most cases you probably won’t.

Do a Last-Minute Impulse Buy Check

Take a few moments before you hit the check-out to go through your cart, putting any unnecessary impulse buys back. Find more last-minute ways to stop impulse buys here.

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Good Tip: Saving money is important – especially if you have a lot of expenses like bills to pay, loans to pay off, and all the other things that drain your bank account. Figuring out a way to save money can feel tedious to some, and like a punishment to others. U.S. News suggests that you try one of these money saving challenges. The “No Eating Out for a Month” Challenge This one is self-explanatory. The goal is to avoid eating out for an entire month. This might be super easy for people who enjoy making meals at home. People who really enjoy dining out, or ordering food to be sent to their home, may struggle with this one. It’s worth a try because spending money on take-out is more expensive than buying groceries. The Pantry Challenge This one is a variation of the “No Eating Out for a Month” challenge. The goal is to use up all of your groceries before you buy more. It forces you to try and remember why you bought a food or beverage that you don’t know what to do with, and gives you the opportunity to find a way to use it. The one exemption to this challenge is the foods that have expired. Don’t eat them! Throw them in the trash. The “No Spend” Challenge Make a goal to avoid spending money during an entire weekend. The only exemption in this challenge is that you are allowed to pay bills. This challenge is interesting because it requires creativity. You must be creative and find workarounds for problems that you would typically solve by spending money. You may have a different outlook on spending after finishing this challenge.