Shopping: Love it or hate it, you have to do it. While plenty of people begrudgingly head to the store to pick up groceries, clothing and other items, plenty of people look forward to a trip to the mall or supermarket.
If you fall into the "love to shop" category, you might have found your spending has increased or that the number of impulse buys you make is getting out of hand. The next time you see something you must have while shopping, ask yourself these questions before you add the item to your cart.
Does It Fit Your Budget?
Whether you're considering buying an inexpensive accessory, a pricey designer bag or a new gadget for your kitchen, stop and ask yourself if you have money in your budget for it that month. If you regularly allow a certain percentage of your income for fun purchases or non-necessities, ask yourself if buying that one object would keep you from buying something you actually need or could benefit from this month.
If the answer to "does it work with your budget" is no, you're better off leaving the item behind. If you really do need it or think it would dramatically improve your life, you can either budget for it next month or start saving up for it.
Do You Really Need It Right This Moment?
It's not always bad to buy things you don't need but simply want. But if you're constantly buying things just because you want them, it helps to be particularly diligent about whether you actually need something that instant.
If you regularly find yourself buying things that you don't really need, making a list and putting a wait period into place can help you cut down on purchases. For example, if you see a pretty vase while browsing online, don't just add it to your shopping cart. Instead, decide if the item is something you really need.
Can You Find a Less Expensive Option?
Although online shopping can be tempting, it offers one major advantage: bargain hunting is so much easier. If you're tempted by an item in a store, odds are good that you can find either the same item or something very similar, for less money, somewhere else.
You don't have to manually hunt around for the item, either. US News and World Report tested a number of price comparison tools, all of which are designed to search for specific items and show you the prices available for those items around the web.
Are You Buying Because It's On Sale?
Sometimes, "sale" is the most powerful word in the world. It can turn a pair of not-so-great jeans into the most flattering pair on the planet. It can also cause you to overspend when you're trying to save. Don't pull out your wallet just because an item is on sale. Chances are good that the item will go on sale again, when you are in a better financial place.
Will You Actually Use It?
In 2011, Americans spent more than one trillion dollars on items they didn't really need, according to the Wall Street Journal. If you're like lots of people, you've probably bought something that you never used. It could be a bestseller you thought you'd read, or a video game you never even opened.
The next time you feel tempted to buy something, consider the questions above before you make a purchase. Before you know it, your savings will add up.