Marketing, advertising, and public relations mavens rely on the impulses of the consumer to lay down hard-earned money as quickly as possible. It is always nice to take the keys to a new car, brag to your friends about the latest set of golf clubs, show off that new dress or bracelet, and realize aspirations through luxury goods. Remember, there are many more reasons not to buy something as there are to buy it, and sometimes rushing the decision can cost more than money. Distinguishing among a need, a want, and a desire helps first frame the decision. Here are 3 ways that you can be more deliberate, avoid regretfully indulging all the time, and spend more carefully:
1) Use a cooling off period. Use the rule of 3 to wait before buying something, with the scale increasing according to the amount of money being spent: 3 days, 3 weeks, 3 months, and 3 years. This waiting period will allow you to think deeply about what you are buying, if you can afford it, and if you truly need it. You can use this time for research, price comparison, quality checks, and compulsion management.
2) Think in terms of time. Instead of thinking of the dollar value of goods, think about time spent. How long will you have to work to earn the after-tax money that you are so eager to spend? Much like a dieter who thinks of exercise time before eating unhealthy foods, you can train yourself to feel less eager to fill the shopping bags with things that you really don’t need or won’t use enough to justify buying.
3) Learn to make trade-offs. Often, we worry that not having something means that someone else will have it or have it first. Do you really need the newest items right now, or can you find a better deal on last month’s or last year’s version? If you are going to use something repeatedly, then you can afford to trade time for money. Better still, if you can fight the urge to buy right away, then you can take advantage of discounts from overstocked stores.
Did you know? Just because you can buy something does not mean that you always should. Not only will you be able to make better purchase decisions using these impulse control methods, but you will also impress financial lessons on your friends, relatives, neighbors, co-workers, colleagues, and children.