Want to Save? Think Like Mom

It’s a little uncanny how often money studies echo stuff that Mom told you (or yelled at you) when you were a kid. And while you could argue with Mom, you can’t dispute how much these tricks can help you save.

Don’t touch that! It’s natural to handle things as you shop—picking up glassware, stroking a sweater, testing a camera.

But if you want to save, give yourself a mental slap on the wrist before you put your hand out.

A 2009 study by researchers at UCLA and the University of Wisconsin found that when people were allowed to hold certain things (a mug, a Slinky) they were inclined to pay more for them. You know this happens to you in Target. Admit it.

Make a list. Yawn! A list? Really?

Yes. Several behavioral studies have found that making a list, or engaging in some form of pre-shopping prep, prevents overspending. Strategizing, researchers say, can reduce what you spend in a store by as much as 30%.

Weigh the options. What makes frugal folks different? Before buying, they consider the opportunity cost of the money they’re about to spend (“If I buy this $60 lamp, I can’t spend $60 at our favorite restaurant.”) According to Yale researchers, when people employed this “either-or” strategy, they bought less.

Read more of these tips in the current print issue of Money magazine, online soon.

State your gains. What habits really help you save more?

photo source: cleverhandspress’ shop on etsy

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