Are you an impulse buyer? Picture: iStock
Are you an impulse buyer? Picture: iStock

This hack can stop you overspending

THIS really makes you think.

Reflecting on recently used personal possessions can help stifle the urge to impulse-buy, according to new research by Rice University in Houston, Texas, slated for publication in the Journal of Public Policy and Marketing.

This reflection reduced study participants' willingness to purchase new items by about 14 per cent compared to a control group, the study found.

Lead author Utpal Dholakia, a professor of marketing at Rice, likened the visualisation exercise to "mentally shopping the closet".

Consumers can use it right when they feel the urge to buy something in a store or online, he told Moneyish.

Thinking about recently used "functional possessions" - like a tool, a hair dryer or lawnmower, for example - actually works better, Mr Dholakia added.

"You think of what you already have and it kind of calms you down. It calms that impulsive shopping urge," he said.

"After people reflect on functional possessions, they are less tempted.

"They are less interested in pulling the trigger on buying something new."

The findings are free advice for the 84 per cent of Americans who admitted having made impulse purchases at some time and the 77 per cent who said they'd made one in the past three months, according to a 2016 survey.

While most were small indulgences, 54 per cent said they'd dropped $100 or more and 20 per cent said they'd spent at least $1000.

Consumers spend an average of $450 a month on impulse buys, according to a SlickDeals survey released in February - stacking up to $5400 a year.

Mr Dholakia and his team ran four studies, the first of which asked 165 online survey participants to "describe your recent experience with a product. Specifically, we would like you to think of any product that you purchased, currently own and have used recently."

Participants were then shown five products - a sweater, a stainless-steel watch, a chair, a box of Godiva chocolates and a coffee maker - and asked to estimate the product's actual price and indicate their willingness to pay for it.

People who engaged in reflection on a recently used possession, the researchers found, were less willing to pay for the basket of items than those in the control group or planning group.

"The findings of these studies show that reflection about the recent use of one's possessions provides an effective method to quell the shopping urge and to reduce consumption," the authors concluded.

This story originally appeared on the New York Post and has been reproduced with permission.