Financial independence is an admirable goal; knowing that you will be able to handle what the future brings because you have the savings necessary to meet your own needs is a vital component of mental peace. Of course, it’s much easier to think about than to accomplish, especially if you don’t have any strong financial role models in your life. The following will explore just one aspect of saving money: keeping shopping costs down. The goal isn’t to deny yourself the things you need for a well-rounded life, but to make sure you’re not overspending on them or falling for advertising tricks and tactics that convince you to buy things you don’t need.
Understand How Dopamine Works
If you’re someone who gets home and thinks, “Why did I buy that?” This tip is for you. Most people have a misguided view of dopamine. It’s the neurochemical that creates motivation in the brain, and it’s heavily linked with desire. It feels good, so usually, people want to have more of it if they can. The misunderstanding comes as people assume that the actual action (in this case, making a purchase) is what causes the dopamine spike; this isn’t the case.
Your dopamine spikes when you have the desire for action when you first think: I want to buy that, or I’m going to buy that. Actually making the purchase doesn’t increase your dopamine. Studies have found time and time again that the anticipation of a certain action releases dopamine, not the action itself; smokers get the biggest high when they decide to go outside for a smoke.
If you are aware that the high you’re getting when thinking about making a purchase is way more intense than the feelings you’ll get from actually taking the item up to the counter or clicking “buy” in an online store, you can more easily differentiate when you’re making purchase decisions in the midst of a dopamine high.
Set A Waiting Limit
Everyone’s financial situation is different, but most people have a limit on how many dollars they can spend before they get that sinking feeling in their stomach and they stop enjoying the shopping experience. It might be 30 unexpected dollars for you or $75 or $100. Figure out how much is too much to spend without planning for it, and set yourself a waiting limit.
All this means is that if you develop an interest in a purchase that costs more than that limit and isn’t in your budget, you need to wait a certain number of days before buying. Most people find two weeks is a long enough wait. Almost all the time, you’ll find that the purchase was a whim and that you don’t actually want it; you simply got caught up in the dopamine tangle that is thinking about new purchases or fell for snazzy advertising and good retail space lighting.
Look For Coupons
Now that the internet exists, coupons are easier than ever to find. While many coupons are essentially marketing tricks that get you to buy something you wouldn’t otherwise buy for the dopamine hit of “making a good financial decision given the savings being offered,” if you only seek out coupons for things you were planning on buying anyway, like discounts on prescriptions or coupons for your summer wardrobe, you can save a ton of money. Simply search online for the store or item you’re purchasing and the terms “coupon or discount.” You’ll be shocked by how much you can save.
Don’t Shop While Hungry
One of the easiest ways to overspend involves going into stores when you’re hungry. Hungry people make poorer decisions than fed people, just like tired people make poorer decisions than rested people. If you’re hungry, you’re far more likely to splurge on too much food for the week or unhealthy snacks that are overpriced for convenience’s sake.
Unsubscribe From Emails
Email marketers are good at their jobs. They know what to write in an email to convince you to visit their online store and make a purchase you didn’t even know was an option fifteen minutes ago. To avoid this, unsubscribe from the emails you don’t need. If there is a company you work with or buy from regularly, of course, you can stay on their list for the discounts, but for one-off purchases, avoid email subscriptions.
The above information should help you avoid overpaying for your regular purchases and help you avoid purchases you’re not actually interested in. With a few simple tweaks, you can end up spending less money without sacrificing comfort and quality of life.