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Personal Finance

Symptoms of a Frivolous Purchase


One of the best ways to save money and invest in your future is to cut back on frivolous shopping with your disposable income. Instead of having so many CDs that you don’t have time to listen to them all, you could have an index fund earning you a nice return for retirement or a big purchase like a house.

But how do you know when you’re making a frivolous purchase? Our mind can play tricks on us and make us think what we’re buying is exactly what we need. Well, here are two symptoms or warning signs to look for in yourself to see if you’re making a frivolous purchase.

Physiological signs

While you’re cruising the mall, you see a shirt you would like to buy. It’s the perfect shirt. You know if you have it you’ll be sexier and more confident. This is when the adrenalin starts rushing through your body. Your pulse quickens. You’re heart palpitates. Your palms start sweating and you start salivating. To our brain, shopping is like hunting. Instead of mastodons, the prey is a CD or a piece of clothing. Because shopping is like hunting, our brain prepares our body for the shock by pumping out adrenaline. That’s why you see these kinds of physical symptoms.

Psychological signs

After the physical signs, come the psychological ones. You’ll find yourself listing all the reasons you should have this shirt. You’ll rationalize. You’re basically trying to convince yourself that you have to buy this shirt, despite knowing you don’t.

The Prescription

If you find yourself experiencing these symptoms while in a store, put down the item, and walk out the store. As soon as you leave the store, bust out your “I will buy this in one month” list, and add that item that had you drooling to the list. As you delay the purchase, two things will either happen. The feeling that you need to buy that item will either stay or go away. Most of the time, you’ll forget that you even wanted to make the purchase. If you still have desires to make the purchase, start making a plan so you can afford it. When you do purchase the item, it will be much more enjoyable to own. By delaying gratification, you’ll not only increase your buying pleasure, but also save money in the long run.