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How to avoid impulse purchases

Smart shopping means first of all asking yourself the right questions before buying something. Salespeople and advertisers consider it their mission to convince you that you need their product. But your mission, as a smart shopper, is to make informed decisions.

Decide how to spend your money

  • Are you buying something just to flatter your ego or impress your friends?
  • Do you really need the product or service?
  • Is the item worth the hours you spent at work to earn your money?
  • Could you put your money to better use?
  • Is your impulse to buy linked to an emotion? Do you go shopping because you're sad? Angry? Wildly happy? If the answer is yes, leave your credit cards at home and take only a small amount of cash with you. Shopping in an emotional state could lead you to make purchases you'll regret later.

Decide in advance what products or services you're going to buy

  • What level of quality are you looking for? Be aware that higher prices don't necessarily mean better quality. Research the product first by asking people around you or referring to consumer guides to form your own opinion.
  • How much can you afford to spend?
  • Can you wait for the item to go on sale?
  • Do you need to buy a well-known brand or could a generic brand do just as well?

A good trick to avoid impulse purchases

When you're shopping and you're struck with the urge to buy a particular item, write it down on a list and let it stew for a couple weeks. When you take it out later, ask yourself if you still need it. If the answer is yes and you have the money, give yourself permission to buy it. If the answer is no, cross it off your list!

Also see Impulse buys - 6 traps to avoid.

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