70% of Americans admit to having bad spending habits. Here are 3 big ones to break

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Do your financial habits need work? The sooner you admit it, the sooner you can work on it.


Key points

  • New data reveals that most consumers are unhappy with the way they spend.
  • Here are some bad habits to try to improve.

Saving money is an important goal for you? You could really struggle to do this if you can’t control your spending. And if you’ve struggled in that regard, you’re in good company.

In a new CouponFollow survey, 70% of respondents cite poor spending habits as one of their most harmful financial weaknesses. If you’re unhappy with how you spend, it might be time to tackle those bad habits.

1. Impulse buying

Have you ever heard the joke about the person who walks into their local big box store to buy milk and bread and comes out with a loaded cart and a $200 credit card bill? Chances are you’ve been the subject of this not-so-funny joke on more than one occasion due to your tendency to impulse buy.

But it’s not just the big box stores that open the door to impulse purchases. You might see an ad pop up on your screen as you browse social media, and poof – you’re spending $75 on shoes that weren’t even on your radar. You might even be a victim of impulse shopping at the supermarket when you see your favorite brand of cookies on sale.

Impulse buying can not only lead to overspending, but can also land you in debt. And so it is better to break this habit.

A good way to do this is to apply the 24-hour rule, which goes like this: The next time you’re tempted to buy something on a whim, force yourself to wait 24 hours. If, after this time has elapsed, you still feel you need the item in question, go for it, provided you can afford it. But chances are waiting a day will help you realize that some of these so-called must-haves are items you can pass on instead.

When was the last time you stopped to see which cereal brand offered the best value? Okay, to be fair, if you’re spending too much on cereal, you’re probably talking about losing $1. But if you don’t take the time to shop around for larger purchases, you could end up spending money unnecessarily, limiting your ability to save it.

While a single dollar wasted on grain won’t blow your budget, if you regularly paying too much for essentials, it might catch up with you. That’s why it’s worth spending some time researching your purchases. Use apps like GasBuddy to find the cheapest gas stations in town and browse your supermarket flyers to see which stores carry your favorite items. Shaving a few dollars off your purchases here and there could go a long way.

3. Spending out of boredom

When the weather is cold or your plans have been canceled on a whim, you might be inclined to curl up on the couch with your phone, laptop or tablet and spend an evening shopping to occupy those time. But it’s a habit that could end up spending way more money than you can afford.

A better bet? Pledge not to buy out of boredom and only go shopping online when you have a specific item in mind.

If you’re having a night where you’re really bored and don’t know how to keep yourself busy, try picking up the phone and calling an old friend or organizing those childhood photos you’ve been wanting to go to. But don’t spend hours shopping and spending in the absence of something better to do.

If you’re unhappy with how you’re spending your money, rest assured you’re not alone. Breaking these bad habits could improve your financial situation. And once that happens, your prospects should follow.

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