It's pretty obvious that one way to get out of debt and to save money is to watch your spending. If you think about it aside from necessary expenses such as loans to pay for an education, a mortgage to put a roof over your head, a car to get you to and from point A to B, food, health insurance and basic utilities, the rest of your spending is discretionary.
This is not to say you should get rid of your beloved smartphone, iPod, digital cable package with 500 channels, and only buy a car that's 10 years old (unless that is your only option). The key is to start thinking, on a daily basis, about what you spend. The next time are you out shopping keep these questions in mind to avoid impulse buying:
1) Do I really need this item? Not just want but need. Have you been looking for this book, DVD, piece of furniture or particular pair of shoes? If so, then hopefully you've already done some price and quality comparison so it might be time to buy. However , if you haven't done the research then perhaps you should start doing so before buying.
2) At this moment, is there a better use of this $20? Or if I spend this $5 bill, then does this mean I bring my lunch to work all 5 days this week instead of the 4 days? Economists call this opportunity cost.
3) Can I get this at a better price somewhere else? The tendency is to think about where you can find a better deal online. There are two other things to consider:
a. If you go online and bid for an item will it may take more time than you'd like for an item to get to you. What if you need that picture frame for your mom in time for her birthday? Is it worth it to save $5 to risk sending her the gift late?
b. The shipping cost plus the cost of the item should be less than what it would be to pick it up in the store. Why are you going to rejoice in getting that Harry Potter book for $1 when the shipping was $15?
4) Once you pick up the item or items, don't rush straight to the checkout counter. Browse other areas of the store or take your time getting up to the front of the store - you will be amazed how much your cart will empty out by the time you get there. While walking around with your items in your cart you just might answer the above questions that will lead you to keep more money in your pocket!
With some time the process of asking yourself these questions can become automatic and more efficient (at first this process will prolong your time in the store). Impulse buying happens to everyone - whether it is in the grocery store or at your favorite bookstore. It doesn't hurt to ever buy something on impulse, but doing so too many times can add up.