How To: Control Your Buying Impulses by Window Shopping

Control Your Buying Impulses by Window Shopping

Shopping: you either love it or hate it. With a tight budget, shopping can become a huge headache for even the biggest shopaholic. We've all been there, and we've all given in to our impulses and bought something we probably shouldn't have. Yet strolling through the mall doesn't have to require a strong will to keep your credit card from entering a downward spiral. You just need to keep your hands to yourself.

The More You Touch, the More You Spend

If you want to reign in your spending, you might want to stick to shopping with your eyes only. Those who look, but don't touch while wandering through stores will spend less money.

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Suzanne Shu and Joann Peck researched what causes shoppers drop more cash while making purchases. The duo found that the simple act of feeling an item would lead individuals to consider it more valuable. In fact, the study's participants were not only more likely to purchase items that they touched, but were also willing to pay more for them.

The researchers believe this willingness to purchase and overpay is caused by our emotions. When we hold something in our hands, we subconsciously convince ourselves that we need to own it. In an interview with Time, Shu says that getting touchy-feely while shopping plays on our emotions: "When you touch something, you instantly feel more of a connection to it. That connection stirs up an emotional reaction — 'Yeah, I like the feel of it. This can be mine.' And that emotion can cause you to buy something you never would have bought if you hadn't touched it."

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When their participants were asked to detail their feelings after touching objects or simply staring at them, Shu and Peck found that people who felt the items admitted to becoming attached to them. Within just seconds of interaction between their fingertips and the objects, participants reported feeling as though they already owned them—and as we all know, once you've convinced yourself that something is worth the money, there's no going back.

Sometimes, You Need to Use Your Hands

It seems like a simple enough plan: stick your hands in your pockets, and you'll have a better handle on your wallet. Yet sometimes, window shopping isn't helpful.

Though touching items makes us develop an emotional connection to them and can lead us to pay a higher price, there comes a time when it's better to hold what you're buying. If you're someone who only shops when necessary and knows what they're looking for, touching will help you test out the goods before you bring them home.

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For example, you would probably never consider purchasing a car without test-driving it first. How would you know if it fits your needs unless you physically sat in its seats? It's cases like this that turn touching into a helpful tool. You'll be better able to determine if what you're holding or testing is truly good buy—but keep in mind that it might make you less willing to seek out a lesser price.

So, if you're looking to exert a little more control over your spending habits, try window shopping and avoid getting too attached to items you like. But if your heart is set on a purchase you've been planning for a while, feel free to utilize your hands to ensure it's as great as you imagined.

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