One of the biggest money challenges people have is struggling to not buy stuff they don’t need.
With the rise of credit cards, it’s easier than ever to make impulse purchases instead of waiting to make more money first.
Whether you’re a millennial or a baby boomer, living within your means is an important part of saving money and paying off debt.
Not doing so can leave you in a state of constant financial anxiety.
These research-backed tips will help you be better at not overspending, not impulse buying, and not overconsuming unnecessary stuff you don’t need.
12 Ways To Stop Buying Stuff You Don’t Need
- Don't tempt yourself
- Don't fall for retail tactics
- Reflect on your possessions
- Believe in the American dream
- Pig out from time to time
- Use your smartphone less
- Sleep more
- Take care of your body
- Use cash
- Think about the why, instead of the how
- Avoid touching
- Get in nature
1. Don’t tempt yourself
You may not realize it, but you might be more prone to impulse buys than some people.
Invesp conducted a survey to understand who’s impulsively buying more. Here were some of the results:
- Single people spent impulsively 45% more than married people
- People who have unplanned shopping trips are 23% more likely to impulse buy
- Half of millennials were more likely to impulse buy than any other generation
- The average shopper will make 3 impulse buys in 4 out every 10 store visits.
So, if you’re single, make unplanned shopping trips, a millennial, and frequently visit different stores, you’ll probably make an unplanned purchase.
You can avoid tempting yourself by not going to shops or online stores often. The less you put yourself in any opportunity to buy something, the less you’ll be likely to make unneceesary purchases.
You also need to be mindful of your emotions as well. You’re more tempted to buy something if you’re bored or depressed.
There are other ways you can get that same boost of mood, whether it’s exercise, yoga, or just spending time with loved ones.
So, the sum it all up, don’t frequently yourself put yourself in an opportunity to buy something, and don’t buy anything when you’re in a vulnerable emotional state.
Some recommend waiting at least 24 hours before deciding on a purchase.
You’ll probably be in a more stable emotional state to make a wise purchasing decision.
2. Don’t fall for retail tactics
Being aware of the kind of tactics retailers use to get you to impulse buy may help you not do as it often.
Some of the tactics include:
- Limited-time discounts
- Lower-priced items near checkout
- Bright bold colors
- Product samples or demos
- Free shipping
These are just a few of many tactics that businesses use to get your money. And that’s not to fault them for doing it, because that’s what businesses are supposed to do, make money.
But as the consumer, it’s your job to decide whether what you’re seeing is worth your money.
Just because it grabs your attention and it seems like a good deal, doesn’t mean it is. You have to remember that.
3. Reflect on your possessions
We don’t think about it much, but we already own a lot of things in our homes.
Reflecting on that can make you less likely to buy something new.
Rice University conducted an online survey where they asked consumers to recall a recent use of one their personal possessions.
Then, they were handed products, and asked how much they were willing to pay for it. Compared to other groups, the dollar amount they gave for the products were much lower.
In other words, they had a lower desire to pay for items, and thus a lower desire to impulse buy.
The next time you feel like making a sudden purchase, perhaps you can write a gratitude list of all the possessions you’re thankful to have.
Reflect on the last time you used these times and how much you enjoyed using them.
Hopefully once you’ve done that, you won’t feel like buying something new as much as you did before.
4. Believe in the American dream
The idea of the American dream is that anyone can achieve the economic status they want through hard work.
University of Buffalo researchers found that those who believed in this idea more were less likely to make impulse purchases.
In contrast, people who were pessimistic about their ability to improve their economic status were less likely to control their impulse spending.
It’s amazing how much a lot of what we want to achieve all starts with the thoughts we have in our mind.
Just a simple change in attitude about how well you can do financially will help you to stop purchasing things you don’t need.
5. Pig out from time to time
Pigging out is probably something you never thought could help you control your spending habits. But that’s exactly what the University of Utah discovered.
Marketing professors conducted a study that found consumers who ate a traditional Thanksgiving dinner were less likely to make impulse buys.
Specifically, it came from eating foods like Turkey and mashed potatoes. Why you ask?
Apparently, these foods increased levels of serotonin. Serotonin decreases impulsive behavior.
Along with Turkey, most meats, tofu, and protein shakes can increase serotonin as well.
6. Use your smartphone less
The rise of smartphone use in the last ten years has not been without consequences.
We’re still learning about how much these devices affect our mental functioning.
Excessive smartphone has been found to make us more likely to be impulsive in our decision making.
German researchers discovered a connection between smartphone screen time and choosing smaller immediate rewards as opposed to larger delayed rewards.
It wasn’t just about the amount a smartphone was used, but how it was being used.
People who used them more for playing games or publishing social media were more likely to be impulsive in decision making.
Choosing to use your smartphone less can potentially re-establish your self-control, and allow you to make wiser choices with your money.
Here’s an article that you might find helpful: 7 Powerful Ways To Break Your Phone Addiction and Have Freedom Again
Related article: Why I've Never Owned a Smartphone
7. Sleep more
It’s probably not surprising that when you don’t get much sleep, you don’t generally make the best decisions.
The same is the case when it comes to your spending habits. An academic study concluded that mild to moderate sleep deprivation was associated with increased impulsivity.
It goes back to the earlier point of not making purchasing decisions when you’re in a less than optimal psychological state.
You should avoid making any purchases of items late at night. It won’t hurt you to just sleep on it before you decide to buy whatever you’re considering.
8. Take care of your body
One of the more interesting studies to come out in recent years is the association between inflammation and decision-making.
Participants in the study with higher levels of inflammation were more likely to make smaller immediate decisions.
Researchers believe it suggests that there is a connection between the immune system and our behavior.
The takeaway was that what we do to take care of our bodies, can help to limit the likelihood of acting impulsively.
Be sure to do the things that help to take care of yourself, such as exercising, eating well, and keeping your stress levels low.
9. Use cash
In a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, it was found that people were more likely to make impulsive food purchases when using credit or debit cards.
They also found that cash payment was more psychologically painful for consumers than card payments, reducing the urge to buy.
You're literally having to see the amount of money you’re giving away, and how much less money you’ll have in your wallet.
That kind of visual persuasion can be powerful to limiting your excessive spending habits.
Even though purchases are moving more towards card and digital payments, try to use cash to buy things most of the time.
The psychological pain of using cash will help deter you from making unnecessary purchases.
10. Think about the why, instead of the how
When it comes to achieving personal goals like saving money, people who focus on why they want to achieve a goal had an easier time achieving them.
It’s because people who focus on why are more likely to consider outside-of-the-box opportunities to achieve that goal.
When you’re rigid to how exactly you’re going to decrease your urge to buy things, you miss the potential alternative opportunities that could be more helpful.
When making a plan on how you’ll spend less and avoid impulsively buying, keep an open mind, and always remind yourself why you want to achieve the goal.
- Do you want to save for a new house?
- Do you want to pay off your debt?
- Are you hoping to start a business?
Focus on the bigger purpose you’re trying to achieve; and you’ll be more likely to make wiser purchases.
11. Avoid touching
Another study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that when you touch an item in the store, you increase the feeling of ownership of that item.
As a result, you’re more willing to pay more for the object than if you hadn’t touched it. You should also be mindful of this tactic online as well.
Businesses use images that get you to imagine owning a product, increasing your perception of owning it, and thus increasing how much you’re willing to pay for it.
Why else do you think Apple has their cameras and iPhones out for you to touch and play around with in the store?
Businesses also get you to feel a sense of ownership through free trials as well. The takeaway here is that whenever you go to a store, as much as you might feel like it, try to avoid touching the time.
Given the present times we’re in, not touching an item might actually be easier for us now.
When it comes to free trials, you can either choose not to do them, or always make it rule to cancel them before they finish.
Then after you’ve cancelled, you can take some time to decide whether it’s worth it to pay for the full price of the service you used.
12. Get in nature
An article in Scientific American noted that simply gazing at images of the outdoors can help you control your impulses better.
If that’s the case with just looking at images, one can only imagine how it helpful it can be by actually getting in nature.
The reason researchers believe this helps is because nature makes us think more about our future.
When you’re thinking about the future, you lessen your desire for immediate temptations, such as buying something that has a limited-time discount.
So, get out in nature whenever you’re tempted to make a potentially unnecessary purchase. If you can’t get out, look at nature images on your computer instead.
Creating a minimalist budget
If you’re really serious about getting your budgeting in check, a minimalist budget just might be what you need right now.
You can learn more about it in this article: 12 Minimalist Budget Tips for Better Spending Habits
2021 can be the year that you take back control of your finances and stop making unnecessary purchases.
Related: Buy Nothing Day on November 26, 2021