Five ways to develop better spending habits

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The festive season is a time of the year which is even more focused on spending than usual, but there are a few habits you can develop now to help you keep a rein on your resources.

Retailers understand the psychological cues that encourage us to spend and deploy them online, in their store layout, advertising and marketing campaigns. Multi-buy offers, or short-term sales such as Black Friday can create a sense of urgency and encourage impulse buying. It can be hard to resist, even in straitened times.

Shrewd shoppers can deploy some simple strategies to help them spend wisely and save more.

Prioritise saving: Move money into your savings account or ISA before you have time to spend it. A simple direct debit going out on pay day is a great first step towards adjusting your spending habits. Set a budget on spending and stick to it.

Pay in cash: Leave your debit and credit cards at home and take cash instead. Studies have shown paying in plastic reduces the ‘pain’ of paying, because it feels less like ‘real’ money. Contactless payments can make spending even more ‘painless’. Brain scans have shown the ‘pleasure’ regions of the brain are associated with purchases made on plastic, but both ‘pleasure’ and ‘pain’ light up for those paying in cash.

Don’t shop until you drop: Avoid hitting the shops when you’re tired, which reduces your ability to focus and make logical decisions. Long shopping trips, or hours browsing online, just add to this fatigue, and undermine your willpower when trying to make sensible purchasing decisions.

Take your time: Do you really want or need that item? When shopping online, simple steps, like disabling ‘one-click’ purchasing and deleting saved cards details on your computer can create useful delay. Better still, keep your wallet in another room when browsing. Even small hurdles like this can nudge us away from an online purchase. Waiting at least 24 hours – or better still a week – before buying also gives you time to shop around on price.

Clear out ‘cookies’: Delete these regularly to avoid being bombarded with ads for items you’ve been browsing online. These constant reminders can wear down the resolve of even the most careful shoppers.

Once you adopt these habits, it’ll be easier to keep that New Year’s resolution to save more and spend less…

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