How To Talk Yourself Out Of Unnecessary Buys

The moment before you make the final decision on whether or not to make a questionable purchase, your money makes one last plea to stay in your wallet rather than be traded for something superfluous.

Well-Heeled Blog deals out some tips on how to psyche yourself out from making purchases that will lead to buyer’s remorse.

Here is some of the best advice from the post:

* Force yourself to calculate how many hours you had to work to make enough money for the purchase.

* Make yourself wait 24 hours, come back and see how bad you “need” the item.

* Run through your personal inventory and determine whether or not you already own something that’s an apt substitute for the proposed purchase.

*Ask yourself whether or not the money you’d be using could serve you better if put toward a different financial goal.

What do you do to talk yourself off the ledge of financial foolishness?

How to Talk Yourself Out of Buying and Spending? [Well-Heeled Blog]

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  1. BuyerOfGoods3 says:

    Follow the Rule of Survival…If you can’t think of 3 uses for it, don’t bring it.

    I say, it applies here too. If it does not have multiple purposes, keep your money.

    • MeCatLikesMeHamSanwich says:

      Oh, a woman will figure out at least 3 reasons to by it. Ever hear them talk to themselves while shopping?

      • mythago says:

        No. Do they sound like men talking to themselves at an electronics store?

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          Not in the slightest. Men talk up the features of a product, women talk about items/accessories the product in question will go with.

          • mythago says:

            Huh. I guess all the guys I hear talk about buying the latest console peripheral or addition to their stereo system are women in drag.

          • shepd says:

            You’ve never seen men buy home theatre equipment.

            “Hmmm, well, I’ll need a 2,000″ plasma TV, and an amp that delivers 50,000 Watts of Dolby Digital sound. Don’t forget the 18″ speakers, a centre channel, and, oh yeah, I need 5 surround speakers, too. OFC cable? Yeah, 300 feet. And I’d better make sure I get the Harmony One remote as well. Power protection, let’s see, I need this $899 monster branded power bar for sure! Honey… …do we have an HD cable box or not yet?”

            • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

              Silly.

              First off, Dolby Digital is an old and outdated standard. These days it’s all about DolbyHD or DTSHD.

              Secondly, you don’t need 5 surround speakers. Only 3. You do, however, need three in the front.

              Also, a woofer is nice.

              And the Harmony One is hardly necessary. The lower-end Harmony remotes are pretty damn capable.

          • Rectilinear Propagation says:

            Men talk up the features of a product

            Yeah sure, you keep telling yourself that.

          • vaguelyobscene says:

            Aw, look at you and your adorable little gender stereotyping that has no basis in fact!

            And as for the “accessory” aspect of your very sad rant, some women look at each item they buy with the tendency to consider how it can be used in multiple ways. A simple skirt can be used for multiple occasions with the right accessory.

            Men purchase things all the time that are unnecessary. This is a HUMAN condition, but you keep being the way you are.

          • nbs2 says:

            So they do the same thing – convince themselves that the product will fill a functional gap in their lives. No matter how different our equipment is, we’re all the same greedy little trolls underneath..

      • fourclover54 says:

        We must know different women.

        • mythago says:

          I think the distinction here is that you actually know women, as opposed to angrily reading about these unattainable creatures in your latest issue of Details.

  2. Quake 'n' Shake says:

    * Make yourself wait 24 hours, come back and see how bad you “need” the item.

    * Run through your personal inventory and determine whether or not you already own something that’s an apt substitute for the proposed purchase.

    These two points alone have saved me untold thousands of dollars that might have gone toward prostitutes..

  3. apd09 says:

    I posted this on another article last week. I go by the Want or Need method.

    Do I want something? If so it is easy to put it down and not buy it.

    Do I need something? If so it is necessary to buy it.

    If you look at everything in your shopping basket and ask those questions, it will help to cut down on the amount of “want” purchases which are were most money is spent.

    • ARP says:

      I agree with your approach, but so many people now categorize “wants” as “needs.” I need to have netflix. I need a bluray player. So the problem is often the lens that people view these purchases through.

      I don’t know that its simple “can I physically survive without this?” For example, I would categorize internet service as a quasi-utility (and therefore closer to a need). Yes, you can live wihtout it, but makes life much more difficult (and potentially even expensive) if you want to function in society.

      • apd09 says:

        you are 100% correct, internet is something basically needed but it is still a luxury want item. If you are looking for a job, the internet is where you will find the jobs listed. The amount of money one could spend on job hunting through a public computer at Kinko’s or something is astronomical, I know, I did it back in 2001. But now you can take your laptop to Starbucks and get free internet for the price of a coffee to do job hunting, so it is something you could live without which means it is a want item still and not a need.

        • mythago says:

          Is it? At home you can use the Internet without having to buy a latte and they won’t kick you out after a specified time. Internet may also be necessary if you work remotely, or if you need Internet access when Starbucks isn’t open.

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          If you can’t afford the internet, you can’t afford the laptop to go to Starbucks and get the internet for free.

          But I agree it’s still mostly a need. The time saved having it at home versus finding it free, not to mention all the benefits of the internet in general, far outweighs the cost.

          • apd09 says:

            but you are going by the mentality that the laptop is new. My laptop was bought in 2004, is a Dell Latitude 1150 or something and is completely paid off. If I was trying to cut costs I could get rid of the internet and go somewhere to get a connection without it requiring a new computer.

            So I would be able to afford to go starbucks but if we wanted to we could cut internet out and not be that inconvenienced. Not too mention there are unsecured networks in my townhouse complex I could easily latch on to.

  4. travel_nut says:

    * Make yourself wait 24 hours, come back and see how bad you “need” the item.

    This, mainly. Because I’m too lazy to drive another 15 minutes back to the store either (a) after a long day at work or (b) with a crabby infant in tow. It’s easiest to promise myself that I can have it later, and then later stay home and watch TV.

    I may be fat and lazy, but at least I’m fat, lazy, and damn good at saving money.

    • DimTwinkle says:

      This works online too. If I see something I really want and can afford but it doesn’t meet a true need, I leave a tab open to the item overnight. In the morning I discover that I rarely want what I’ve left open.

      I think novelty is something that drives a lot of impulse buys. Looking at it, leaving it, thinking about it, and finally looking at it again – even if it’s just online – removes the novelty of a lot of things.

      So, in addition to the tips listed, I also consider the useful life of something and whether I anticipate using it that long. If I want a gadget that can reasonably be expected to last a year, I consider whether I will want to replace that gadget in a year (with presumably a better version). If I’m not pretty sure I will want to replace it when necessary I’m either buying impulsively (it happens but rarely) or I need to do some research.

  5. wednesdayaddams says:

    Write a list of “wants” to add to and check often. So many things seem great at the time then a few weeks go by, you have the money and realize “I do not need Resident Evil for my old game cube, I don’t have that much game anyway. A Wii’s still on the list though so when the time comes (x-mas)…Zombie killing machine!!!
    Many items never get purchased and are crossed off. Sometimes it helps make it tangible before you purchase it.

    • veritybrown says:

      I do something similar by bookmarking products that I think I’d like to buy. When I actually have some spare cash to spend, I go back and look at those items. Most of the time I find that I really don’t want them after all.

      • DimTwinkle says:

        Isn’t it amazing how many things we want – until we can afford them?

        I haven’t experienced it myself but it occurs to me there is a risk that we will replace the things on our old want lists with more expensive things that we still can’t afford.

      • Miss Dev (The Beer Sherpa) says:

        I do the same thing. It’s fun, because I get to do some virtual shopping, and I save a lot of money because I never end up buying most of it.

        It’s very helpful around Christmas, too, since I have a list of neat stuff I’ve come across over the year and can easily find gifts for folks that are economical and awesome.

    • GinaLouise says:

      I keep a similar wishlist of non-essential awesome stuff I want to buy, and it’s incredibly helpful. Sometimes you’ll realize an item is stupid (I guess I don’t need a 16-speed curling iron). But mostly it squashes impulse buying. When a cool item catches my eye, I just compare it to one of my wishlist items and realize it’s not that cool after all.

  6. Horselady says:

    I ask myself one question,
    “Is it gas or groceries?”

    If it’s not, it’s a big NO for me
    right now, until I pay off this @#$%&* credit card

  7. Rain says:

    I always calculate how long I have to work to afford various things I need or want. When I was working a crappy just over minimum wage job in an attempt to pay for university, I had to work at least 9 hours a month just to afford my bus pass. Once my hours were slashed back so far that the bus pass became the only thing I could afford, I quit.

  8. Robofish says:

    My general rule is if I stand there looking at it debating over it for a long time, then I don’t need it.

  9. dulcinea47 says:

    The 24 hour thing works extremely well. 90% of the time I don’t want it so bad anymore, or if I do, I have at least had a chance to think about whether I can afford to spend the money, or should wait to buy it at a later date, or what.

  10. JRock says:

    One of my favorite ways is to pretend that I already own the item, and ask myself, if somebody would give me cash for it on the spot, would I make the trade? This works well with bigger purchases, too. “Would you give up your new car and take back your used 8 year old one if somebody would give you $400 a month for the next five years?”

    • Xyjar says:

      Holy crap that is brilliant. I wish I read that before buying a new car.

    • misslisa says:

      I do that too! It has not only prevented unecessary purchases, but actually prompted me to return a few things I’d bought.

  11. Hoot says:

    I am currently doing a 3 week “spend no money but the $30 in my wallet” because we’re moving at the end of August and barely have the money to fund the move (not the new apartment). I excluded gas for the car. I also bought 3 weeks worth of food before it started. Sometimes it’s so easy and other times I really have to go through these steps. Made me realize how much crap I was buying on whims. They weren’t necessarily all entertainment or leisure items (though I did have to stop going to Woot). I would often go to the store a couple of times a week because I had a craving to make a certain dish for dinner and that would be $50 outside my food budget.

    Thanks for the timely article!

  12. HeavyMental says:

    my trick : make the seller not my friend !
    when they push i usually tell them “i know it’s your job to get me to buy stuff, but i’ll figure out on my own what i need”

    but more directly related. i want a car … how much am i ready to pay for my car i can’t figure out by myself i’d get the 2010 model if i wasn’t anticipating buyer’s remorse

  13. mythago says:

    “What could I buy my kids instead with that money?” It’s amazing how much less attractive a new gizmo becomes when I calculate (for example) how many new back-to-school clothes, books, or contributions toward a family vacation the money could be used for instead.

    For people without kids, substitute “my SO”, “my cats”, “starving children in Uganda”, or whatever works for you. The idea is to consider the opportunity cost.

    • Michael Belisle says:

      You touch on an issue here of personal value judgements. I once had someone condemn my purchase of a color laser printer by saying that I could have bought a vacation with that money. That’s great, I responded, but your vacation is just as unnecessary as my printer. The only difference is that I spent money on something I care about instead of something you care about.

      All of your examples are in the theme “you should be generous to others, before yourself.” I recently decided I hate all people and everything I do, I do it for me. So the only questions I can ask myself is “can I buy something for me that’s more awesome than this?” or “do I need to dedicate more money to my investments?”

      • joe23521 says:

        You either don’t have kids, or they’re all self-supporting adults. Otherwise, I pity them.

        I have a 2 and a half year old and I think “what can I buy my kid with this money I’m about to spend on myself” all the time without even knowing it.

        • mythago says:

          Keep in mind that you’re talking to somebody who insists he hates “all people”, yet feels the need to communicate with other people on an internet discussion board.

          (Frankly, I was expecting the trolling to be blah blah spoiled kids blah allowance blah in my day mowed lawns to pay for stuff.)

      • veritybrown says:

        Regardless of the judgments being passed on Mr. Belisle, he makes a good point: we all have different values for different things. This was illustrated to me vividly when I spent a summer vacation with my German host family. For them, taking a three week vacation to the French coast, including renting a condo at the beach, was a “necessary” expense, but…they had a cow when they discovered that I didn’t darn my socks! In my parents’ family, socks with holes were thrown away (not worth the effort to fix), but my parents would never have considered such an extensive family vacation.

        The point is, each of knows what we consider valuable, and obviously we are not going to all agree on those values. So it might be better to preemptively AVOID proclaiming that OUR cost/benefit judgments are the best and wisest ones out there.

        • mythago says:

          Fortunately, nobody has made any such proclamation.

          It’s not a matter of values, but about considering the opportunity cost as well as the price tag. “This costs $50″ is more abstract than “I am choosing to have this rather than get my husband that new World of Warcraft expansion for his birthday”. Or “I am choosing to buy myself a new Xbox 360 controller instead of going out for a steak dinner tomorrow.”

  14. Michael Belisle says:

    Allow me to pedantically argue each point since I like buying stuff.

    * Force yourself to calculate how many hours you had to work to make enough money for the purchase.

    I didn’t have to work at all to make enough money to buy it. I’m an exempt salaried employee. I get paid no matter how much I work.

    * Make yourself wait 24 hours, come back and see how bad you “need” the item.

    But I want it now! And I want to stop thinking about which one to buy. If I wait 24 hours, I’ll spend 22 hours running though all the permutations of what’s wrong or desirable about each candidate widget.

    * Run through your personal inventory and determine whether or not you already own something that’s an apt substitute for the proposed purchase.

    Sure, but there’s probably something I don’t like about it that I feel like could be addressed with a new one.

    *Ask yourself whether or not the money you’d be using could serve you better if put toward a different financial goal.

    I usually use the question “Will the money I’m going to spend on this widget significantly aid in reaching my life goal of buying a Honda Jet? No = Buy widget; yes = Don’t buy widget.”

    • mythago says:

      I know you’re trolling, but even liberal arts majors understand that being a salaried employee != “my time has no actual value”.

      • Michael Belisle says:

        I’m using a bit of hyperbole, but I’m not exactly trolling. These are in fact the things I think about when I consider making a purchase.

        I’ve found that the most effective way to prevent myself from making a purchase is to decide that none of the available options fulfill all the requirements, and I should wait until at least the next revision to see what’s available then. For example, this is why I still don’t have a winter coat after I first considered buying one two years ago. I’d like one, but it’s not all that necessary in Texas and I haven’t found one that has all the design characteristics I want.

        • joe23521 says:

          I can understand why people think you’re trolling. This article is obviously targeted at people who are trying to save money and spend less. Your response shows that you have no desire to save money or spend less. Why are you wasting your time and others’ by commenting in this thread?

      • will_o_wisp says:

        I was a liberal arts major as an undergraduate and now have a PhD in Epidemiology. I’m so tired of the “so simple even a liberal arts major can do it” crap.

        • apd09 says:

          yeah, that is so passe. The new one is why try when there’s poli-sci.

          /proud poli-sci major.

        • mythago says:

          I am a proud liberal-arts major with a degree even less useful than poli sci, so I felt comfortable taking a dig at a gearhead by suggesting ‘liberal arts majors can do this math better than you’.

          • nbs2 says:

            General Studies? Even then, I suspect the PolSci would be less useful. The only positive to PolSci is I graduated in 3.5 years, with the major, an unrelated minor, and enough time to take classes like ballroom dancing, country western dancing, and floral design (you would think all are good places to meet women, but only the first is really a good choice). Oh, and I got my Open Water cert.

          • AllanG54 says:

            I have my BA in English. Is there anything less useful than that. Have never used it in the business world. It’s not much better than my daughter’s BFA in fashion design.

            • Kris with a K says:

              I have a BFA in Fashion Design and I’m quite gainfully employed…. in my field. :P

            • misslisa says:

              Hey man, my BA in English got me a job as a technical writer. I make as much as, if not more than, the engineers & IT professionals I work with.

    • obits3 says:

      “I get paid no matter how much I work.”

      Then change the calculation to “How much time must pass for me to accrue the cost of this purchase.”

      (Time in between paychecks in desired units: weeks, days, hours, minutes, etc…) / (Total salary) = Units of time per dollar.

      Units of time per dollar X cost of purchase = Time needed to accrue cost

    • SacraBos says:

      Take your annual take-home pay, divide by 2000. This is your approximate “hourly wage”. Of course, as a salaries employee, sometimes your hourly wage is less depending upon uncompensated overtime.

  15. Jacquilynne says:

    My rule rule for purchases is to wait a week before buying anything over $100 and a month for anything over $500. I don’t write it down or get all anal about it being a precise week / month. If, in a week/month, I still remember that I wanted the item and I still want it, then I feel like I’m probably okay to go and buy it.

    My rough estimate is that I forget something like 75-80% of these ‘Oooh! Shiny’ desires, but of course, having forgotten them, I can’t be precisely sure.

    I probably need to institute a similar 24 hour rule for anything someone links to on the Internet, no matter the price. If I don’t remember or can’t find it again 24 hours later, I probably don’t really want it.

    • Dallas_shopper says:

      My old dishwasher broke down in November 2009 and I didn’t replace it until late April 2010. I had the $500-$600 on hand to buy the one I wanted; I just couldn’t bring myself to pull the trigger on the purchase.

      It was kind of a pain in the butt having to wash dishes by hand but there’s only 2 of us in the house so it wasn’t unmanageable.

      I do classify a dishwasher as a luxury item; you definitely don’t NEED one. They do make life easier though.

  16. Blueberry Scone says:

    I have a small house, and I try to abide by the “bring something in, take something out” rule. If I want to buy something, that means I have to pitch something else. This method has saved me a lot of money over the years!

  17. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Some of us just can’t get away from buying ourselves “want” items. If that’s the case, find smaller items you can buy to get your purchase “fix.” Instead of that $30 blouse, buy a $5 accessory for the clothes you already have.

    It’s not quite the same as talking yourself out of purchases, but more downsizing your spending.

    • Bunkka says:

      I find myself doing this just to “get it out of my system”. It helps most of the time, but every once in a while I end up spending more than I would otherwise, lol.

    • cash_da_pibble says:

      I do this- I will got to the Goodwill, just to get that “Shopping Fix”.
      Sometimes I walk away with a huge bargain, like the brand-new laptop-size Timbuk2 bag for $10.
      And sometimes I walk away with nothing but my “shopping fix” quelled.

  18. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    *Ask yourself whether or not the money you’d be using could serve you better if put toward a different financial goal.

    This is also good for talking yourself out of things you actually should buy.

  19. Straspey says:

    This morning on the “Today” show, Janice Lieberman did a piece on how retailers get you to buy things you may not really need and how they are able to make you believe that you absolutely *MUST* have that item RIGHT NOW !!!

    From the Consumerist article:

    * Force yourself to calculate how many hours you had to work to make enough money for the purchase.

    The retailer can easily brush this momentary reasoning aside by pointing out that the item is ON SALE and has been MARKED DOWN from it’s “original price” and point your thinking towards the money you’ll be saving if you buy the item today.

    * Make yourself wait 24 hours, come back and see how bad you “need” the item.

    No problem here: This is a “LIMITED TIME OFFER” and you must “ACT NOW” or else risk missing out. On the shopping channels they show a countdown clock, while the print and TV ads scream “ONE-DAY-ONLY SALE!!!”

    * Run through your personal inventory and determine whether or not you already own something that’s an apt substitute for the proposed purchase.

    They will make sure to convince you that somehow your life will be substantially improved and uplifted by owning the item. Your self-image, lifestyle, hipness and the all-important jealousy factor (“I have one and you don’t”) are strategies the retailers use to make you believe this is something you MUST own TODAY.

    *Ask yourself whether or not the money you’d be using could serve you better if put toward a different financial goal.

    Think of all the things you can do with the money you’ll be SAVING when you buy the item TODAY while it’s still ON SALE!!

    Of course, everybody here is *much* too smart to fall for any of those ploys – so the next time you find yourself “stocking up” because you never know when you might need 40 pairs of white knee-high socks – you’ll can congratulate yourself for being a SMART SHOPPER !

    • mythago says:

      You really didn’t need to repeat your point over and over again. Yes, it’s true that putting people into a “don’t think, act, and act NOW” panic is a tool of both legitimate retail establishments and con artists. The point of the article is to discuss ways to spend smarter – which includes learning not to listen to pressure tactics.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      A lot of retailers have screwed up that strategy by having stuff go on sale too often or having an item be on sale all of the time. As someone said in the post on how retailers get you to spend money “If the lower price is the item’s price all the time it’s no longer a sale. That’s just the price.”

      It kills the urgency if it’s simply a matter of scheduling when you buy it.

      • Straspey says:

        A very good point.

        Here in NY City, we used to have stores in mid-town, in the middle of the tourist areas, with huge signs in their windows proclaiming “Going Out Of Business Sale”
        and “Last Days ! Everything Must Go!” These signs remained in those windows literally for years, until the Department of Consumer Affairs finally put a stop to it.

        However – those signs must have been working, otherwise they would have been taken down by the retailers themselves.

    • ajlei says:

      Hey man, those knees wear out fast. ;)

  20. XTREME TOW says:

    Although I know to the penny what is in my checking account, when I go shopping I tell myself “I’m not sure how much money I have, so I need to stick to the essentials, no splurging on junk food.” I call it my “Invisible Savings Plan”. At the end of the month, I am amazed that I did not spend as much as I normally would. Now, if I can only resist the temptation to buy a truckload of Twinkies…

  21. MaxPower says:

    * Force yourself to calculate how many hours you had to work to make enough money for the purchase.>/i>

    Does not work… even when I was making minimum wage I would calculate how many hours I had to work vs. how many hours I would use the product… it didn’t work out well. Especially for clothes. Now that I make more it’s even worse because a movie or game may only be an hour or two of work for multiple hours of enjoyment but that doesn’t mean I can just buy a whole bunch of movies and game because I need to pay rent and buy food.

    • montusama says:

      The method helps a bit, like I didn’t use it for the long time and I really need to make sure I use it ALL the time. I don’t bother with calculating how many hours I will use it, I just think do I want to work x number of hours to get this item?

  22. ChuckLez says:

    one tip that I think Gizmodo or lifehacker had: Imagine if you had the choice to receive the same amount of money the item costs, or the item itself. So say, if you instead had the choice between $300 or a PS3. If you choose the money, don’t buy. Has helped me ALOT in being quite cheap, and am financially set so far to get my own house at age 23…..but I keep choosing the money on that one also :P

  23. FatLynn says:

    Do the appropriate research. I wanted a netbook, for example, but once I found out about all of its limitations, it didn’t seem quite as sexy.

    • rookie says:

      my lady scowls every time i refer to her netbook as a ‘doorstop’…

      • mythago says:

        Didn’t they used to refer to netbooks as “supermodel computers”? Very pretty and sleek but not much upstairs?

    • yagisencho says:

      I used the same reasoning to talk myself out of buying a netbook. I researched CULVs instead, and ended up buying the model I wanted several months later when it went on sale for 40% off.

    • myCatCracksMeUp says:

      My netbook does 100% of what I want it to do – which is:

      1 – read email and surf the net. Most of the time it sits beside my comfy chair in the family room and I surf while husband watches TV. Or if I’m watching TV with him we pause the TV while I look up an actor on IMDB to see where we recognise him from.

      2 – in the car on trips (not around town) with my husband, whoever is in the passenger seat uses the Delorme Streets and Maps program to help us find back roads that will get us where we’re going. The built-in Garmin is great for getting us there, but the Delorme is a fantastic program we’ve used for years to take more interesting routes.

      I use my desktop PC, which is in the study, for everything else, and my husband uses his large laptop for everything else, but netbooks definitely have a place.

      • myCatCracksMeUp says:

        I meant to also add that I did originally have a fully capable laptop; when it broke and I contemplated buying a new one, I realized that I never did anything but the above two activities on the laptop, and it was awfuly big and heavy for those two activities. Of course I wouldn’t recommend a netbook for anyone as their only or main computer.

  24. Dapper Dan says:

    I usually wait at least 24 hours before major buys, but it seems over that time I just think about it more and more where I can’t wait to have it. By then I’ve thought about it so much I’m not mad at spending the cash.

  25. Jevia says:

    Factor in shipping and handling costs for on-line purchases, whether its really cheaper to buy it through the on-line “sale” or just go to the local store and the same thing there, also probably “on sale” but without the shipping costs.

  26. HogwartsProfessor says:

    This is how I do it: I look in my wallet and watch the moths fly out. Then I shrug and move on.

  27. Emilliy says:

    I’ve found that if I go shopping only once a week I spend less. The less I am in a store the less likely that I will be tempted to buy extras. This has of course lead to some interesting meals towards the end of the week if I haven’t planned well but nothing has turned out inedible.

  28. Cyniconvention says:

    I am usually broke, so I think “Do I really want to part with my money over this/this soon?”

  29. Wolfbird says:

    *Bring your SO or friend when shopping. I never knew how important or obvious this was until I went furniture shopping with the man for our new flat. We went to IKEA, which should normally be avoided unless you have a strict shopping list and plan to stick to it. From that day the most memorable experience came during the line up when I picked up an end table and commented on it. It turns out the only reason it was put in the cart was “because we have one just like it at home”. You know, because end tables are a social species and only thrive in herds.

    • jeff_the_snake says:

      at ikea i usually think, “do i want this enough to spend the time assembling it?” i don’t bring the old lady along because she isn’t operating under a similar constraint.

    • cash_da_pibble says:

      My BF and I go shopping together all the time. We curtail each other’s impulses.
      If someone’s getting starstruck, they turn to the other and say “Voice of Reason?” in an attempt to get a neutral voice on the subject. This helps immensely.

  30. erratapage says:

    These days, I have to talk myself into making necessary buys.

  31. jimstoic says:

    Part of why Gilt.com and similar sites are so good at getting my money is that the items they sell are available for such a short time. The best stuff sells out within hours. Damn you, free market, always optimizing commerce for your own selfish ends!

    • nobomojo says:

      That’s how they get me. I was looking at this dress that I had wanted for months, it appeared on one of those sites and sold out within minutes before I could get one. Of course I didn’t really need the dress to survive. But I am one of those people who will obsess over finding something and it will waste countless hours of my time.

  32. BjornOlafson says:

    Put it on the wish list in Amazon. If you remember it after about a month get it. I’ve nixed about 250 items over 3 years this way. Only about 2 or 3 have I had regrets over not buying….

    • biggeek says:

      I’ve been using the Amazon Wish List method as well. It’s really useful for providing a cool down period.

      • yagisencho says:

        Same here. Helps me take a longer view on the gee-whiz gadgets that I used to buy on impulse.

  33. Buckus says:

    I just never have any money, so it works out ok.

  34. Outrun1986 says:

    I really like saving for a big purchase because it puts my mind on the big purchase and not the little things, in the end I usually have a lot more saved up for the big purchase than what I actually spent on it, so then I find i have extra money which is always good. Its just much easier to resist the little things when I tell myself I am getting something nice at the end of the year (a big purchase for me is like a $200 item). Buying a lot of little things adds up too. Then I end up with one nice thing instead of a bunch of junk that I realize I don’t want a couple weeks after I bought it.

  35. aaron8301 says:

    I just ask myself, “will this cause my wife to remove neither, one, or both of my testicles,” and make my decision accordingly.

  36. aabacus says:

    For entertainment: Divide the cost by the number of hours entertained. So, a new game for the Xbox costs $60. Say I get 60 hrs out of it. That’s $1 / hr. If I go to the movies that costs $15 and I get 3 hrs out of it so $5 / hr. Hence, I don’t go to the movies very often.

    You can do the same with a car (my 2002 cost $24,000 new and it’s got 93,000 miles on it so $0.25 / mile. Add in maintenance and gas and whatever and I’m sure that goes up to $0.35 per mile but still…cheaper to keep her. Cheap transportation.

  37. Dallas_shopper says:

    My parents taught me those lessons when I was a kid. I guess not everyone’s did? ;-)

    No, seriously; I’m very lucky to have learned these lessons at a young age.

  38. lihtox says:

    For the geeks in the house… I always think of it as a saving throw: “make your saving throw versus cookie” etc. In fact, I’ve considered the possibility of actually carrying a 20-sided die around with me, and actually making the saving throw: if I roll below 10 or something, I buy the cookie. That way, at least I’m only giving in half the time, and I can increase the number I have to make over time as I “advance in level”. :)

    OK, I haven’t seriously considered doing this, but maybe someone else will. (I guess a smartphone app or a deck of cards might be more discreet than actually rolling a die.)

  39. ZanDPY says:

    I ask myself “Exactly where am I going to put this?” That works pretty well until I’m looking at something like a house gizmo.
    That soap dispenser took advantage of me and my weakness for things Mamegoma-themed. I feel so used.