Being forced to adopt new consumer habits is hard. However, the way the economy is evolving and the fact that the younger generation is taking a stance against mindless consumerism are two forces that are pushing people to think twice about the way they spend their money.
Meanwhile, companies are constantly looking for ways to get us to spend more, more, more. So, no, it’s never fun to have someone in your face berating you for how you chose to spend your own money, but it’s equally unpleasant to become manipulated into swiping your card.
This constant tug of war? It doesn’t seem like there’s an end in sight!
Yet… being a conscious consumer could really help you save more money or, at the very least, stop you from spending without rhyme or reason. In the end, isn’t that what we all should avoid doing in order to reach our financial goals?
Today we’re going to talk about 6 consumer habits that will help you spend a lot less money every day. First, you need to distinguish between needs and wants. this is likely the hardest part of this whole thought experiment. It’s hard for us to give up on certain luxuries, be them big or small.
There are certain things that we’re so used to purchasing that we can’t imagine not having them- a coffee from your favorite coffee shop on your way to work? Taking an Uber or Lyft instead of public transportation? Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime all at once!?
If any of this sounds concerning and if you truly want to change small things every day that we promise will help you later on in life then click through. Here are 6 smart consumption habits that you can start incorporating in your life right now that will cause huge, undisputed financial changes!
1. Take Advantage of the Internet
And no, we don’t just mean you should take advantage of the internet to order your favorite items with same-day shipping. We mean scouring the entire internet for as much information as possible before committing to a purchase.
Nowadays we don’t have the time or patience to compare and contrast similar items from similar stores as our parents or grandparents did. Say you want to buy a comfy sweatshirt. Years ago a buyer would sit on his or her decision and compare their desired item of clothing with similar ones from different stores.
Nowadays people buy the first cool shirt they see on the front page of a website. Why, when you have thousands of megabytes of information at your fingertips? Navigate between Amazon, e-bay, Alibaba, and Mercado libre until you find the best price but keep an eye on the reviews from each website.
A lot of places have made it super easy to buy stuff. Uh, one-click buy, anyone? Don’t fall for this trap. Think about it. Sleep on it.
Also, don’t forget about the smaller players! If a business has listings on Amazon you might as well look them up- they likely have a brick-and-mortar store where prices are lower or their own website. As a bonus, they’ll probably offer coupon codes or discounts. These treasure troves are just a few clicks away.
2. Avoid Making Major Purchases When You Are Emotionally Upset
When you’re feeling emotional overwhelmed it’s generally a bad idea to go shopping. Whether you’re angry, depressed, or happy, it’s best to let these emotions pass first. These instabilities would just make it easier for you to focus on the distinction between wants and needs.
Feeling ecstatic? You might want to commemorate this with a gift to yourself. Feeling stressed? Then you’ll find ways to convince yourself that a new item will make you feel better.
Calm and informed minds will have an easier time making financially sound decisions. A lot of companies are already trying to distract us, so let’s not make it easier for them to convince us to buy than it already is, shall we?
It might sound silly but you could start by researching conflict resolution, pshyhology, philosophy, and even take a course in resilience. The more you know about how your mind works the easier it will be for you to find the tools necessary to help you become a conscious consumer.
3. Beware of Budget Cuts
You might think ‘hey! I’m making budget cuts! I’m winning at this whole savings thing!’ and you might be right but there is a small chance you’re making huge mistakes that will cost you dearly in the future.
Budget costs should revolve around your wants, not needs. You’d be surprised by how many people get into budgeting without making that distinction.
To make a long story short don’t cut back on your access to technology, health, information, education, or investment otherwise the pennies you save now can bite you in the rear with long-term costs. Let’s say you’ve decided to spend less money on healthcare today. Years down the line you might feel the ramifications of your actions when your poor health will start catching up with you.
Want more specifics? Just think about all the people who avoid going to the dentist when they think their pain is bearable. Months down the line they’ll pay tens of thousands of dollars for something that could have been fixed with much less had they visited a dental office earlier.
Make sure you cut down on things that won’t harm you later on!
4. Know Your Rights
As consumers, we’re ‘harassed’ with things we should buy either through ads or the dreaded FOMO… the fear of missing out! But have you noticed how we’re not reminded of our rights all that often? A company’s best interest is to sell, sell, sell so they’re not as vocal about what you should do or what you should expect if a product you’re purchasing isn’t up to standards.
The same goes for your experience. Remember that you have the right to not be discriminated against, ever. So even if you find a product that you like, if the company discriminates against you in any way, shape, or form, walk away!
You also have the right to choose, so don’t let salesmen or women corner you into making any purchase. Remember that their job is to convince you to spend as much money as possible. Sadly, a few might become cold or forceful. If this happens remind yourself that you are under no obligation to finalize a transaction.
If an item you’ve just bought is different from what’s been advertised to you you have the right to demand compliance with advertising. What the ad says is enforceable as part of a contract. So if you find it to be misleading, walk away or ask for an item that fits the description of the ad that attracted you in the first place.
Finally, you have the right to compensation. If your product does not comply with the rules or is of poor quality, the seller can’t deny a replacement. Alternatively, you can ask for your money back and, in some cases, could even ask for a 20% or more bonus of the price you paid.
5. Beware of Advertising
Advertisement used to be easy… well, not anymore. Thanks to technology, companies can target you based on the personal information you’ve disclosed on social media. Data from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or other apps will help cater ads that you might not be able to resist.
How? Because they’re made in such a way that will convince you that you need those items. In some cases, ads can create false needs or provoke unwarranted fears. If you feel compelled to buy an item, especially online, leave it on your shopping cart for at least 24 hours. If when you come back you still want that item then you can purchase it.
In most cases, though, consumers will realize that there is no real urgency to buy that item and they can step away without feeling guilty. That’s why one-click shopping is so dangerous for our wallets. They make it extremely easy for us to buy faster, removing precious time during which we might change our minds.
Speaking of social media, remember that whenever something you use is free it means that the product is you. So if you like spending time on Facebook your data will be collected and then sold to companies that will help companies give you the right style of ads that will attract you!
6. Buy Healthy
It goes without saying that buying things that are bad for your health is a bad decision… but we’ll say it anyway!
If you can, you should always reach for higher quality foods, for example. Yes, these may be more expensive than harmful ones but if you pay a few extra pennies or dollars now you could save tons of money in the future. Trust us, you don’t want to be slapped with an endless medical bill because you got stingy when you were grocery shopping.
The same goes for safety. If you’re buying equipment, purchase something that you know you can trust instead of saving a few dollars and avoid potentially harmful situations. Better safe than sorry, right?
Well, there you have it! We hope our list will help you think twice about how you shop. Being a conscious consumer represents more than checking a product’s label, it’s the way we think about shopping in general.
How do you plan on changing your habits in the future? Let us know in the comments down below.
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