11/15/2012 3:45 PM ET|
5 questions to ask before you spend
Am I getting the best deal I can?
Impulse buying has an unfortunate side effect: You frequently overpay.
That's because it's impossible to know if you're getting a good price without doing a little bit of research beforehand, says Freedman.
"A lot of people buy things just because it is on sale without looking around," she says. " Just because Safeway has something on sale does not mean that you still cannot buy it cheaper at Costco, for example."
Put the brakes on a purchase long enough to get some competitive prices from other vendors, even if that means just pulling out a smartphone and looking up the item online, she says.
Cunningham says that in addition to comparison shopping, delaying a purchase until that item's "off-season" is also a good way to ensure you're not overpaying.
"Say you want a boat. Well, you are going to pay the most for a boat (during summer)," she says. "But buying a boat in November, you might get a really good deal on it."
How long will it take me to earn the money?
For chronic impulse buyers, a simple calculation can help put a purchase in perspective. Take your hourly wage and divide it into the price of the item.
Knowing exactly how long you'll have to work to pay for an item can be a good way to counter a tendency to spend without thinking, Cunningham says.
"It is a real eye-opener to make people realize how long they are going to have to work to pay for the item, because typically we are very good spenders," Cunningham says. "We work very hard for our money, but we very casually spend our money."
For example, the median hourly wage in the U.S. is $16.57, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. At that rate (without taking tax into consideration), it would take the median worker 30 hours to earn a new $499 iPad or 1,841 hours to earn the $30,508 average sale price (according to TrueCar.com) of a light vehicle.
Seen that way, purchases that are portrayed by advertisers as routine can be viewed from a whole new perspective, Cunningham says. "That gives you a bit of a pause," she says.
What am I giving up to buy it?
For most of us, scarcity is a fact of life. Most people don't have enough money to meet every need and want, so a trade-off is built into every purchase, Wealth Gathering's Goldman says.
Unfortunately, people have a tendency to put blinders on when it comes to what they're giving up to buy what's in front of them.
The best tool to remove those blinders may be a budget. Placing money into different "buckets," depending on what it's going to be used for, makes it harder to frivolously overspend, Goldman says.
"We are willing to spend money differently and take different risks with money, depending on which bucket mentally we have it in. We can kind of use that to our advantage," he says.
In other words, if you know that impulsive DVD purchase is going to have to come out of funds set aside for something you really want or need, you may be more hesitant to make it, he says.
"If I open a savings account and call the account 'my Bahamas account,' I am much less likely to crack that open and use it for something else," he says.
More from Bankrate.com:
MORE ON MSN MONEY
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
this is simple for me, I just ask myself do I want the crap that my money will buy! Or do I want the money, It's always the money Duh!
Copyright © 2013 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Quotes are real-time for NASDAQ, NYSE and AMEX. See delay times for other exchanges.
Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Thomson Reuters (click for restrictions). Real-time quotes provided by BATS Exchange. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Interactive Data Real-Time Services. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by SIX Financial Information.