What is self-control and why is it important?

Self-control is an ability to resist something. When it comes to buyer behavior, we look at self-control as the capacity to resist an impulse buying. For example, a person walks in the store and immediately becomes obsessed with the leather jacket that is located on the mannequin in the window. The person buys the jacket on the spot without even looking at the price tag or trying it on. This is a perfect example of impulse buying. Let’s take a look at another example: the person walks in the store looking to buy an iPhone 14 Pro Max. They look at the price and realize that this phone is a little bit out of their budget. After talking to the sales associate at the Apple store and discussing the features of an iPhone 14 Pro Max and comparing it with other iPhone models, the customer finds out that iPhone 14 Pro Max has the exact same features as iPhone 13 Pro Max, but iPhone 13 is $300 cheaper than iPhone 14. Even though the customer originally wanted an iPhone 14, he had a strong enough self-control to let himself save $300 and purchased the iPhone 13. This example clearly states how self-control can help us save money while exploring similar options. 

Self-control is an important feature to have for shoppers who want to spend their money wisely and save up where they can in a long run. Although, most salespeople and marketing managers look at self-control in customers as a negative feature because they may not purchase a particular product because of the price being too high, the product being available at a cheaper price somewhere else or an alternative product with similar or identical features available in that same store. Marketers and merchandisers constantly work to make the products more and more attractive and eye-catching. They count on people with low self-control to get “blown away” by the product’s presentation.

How to avoid impulse buying?

Even though we have already determined that salespeople and marketing managers count on people with low self-control when creating their marketing strategies, a lot of people do not understand that in the moment when they are “falling in love” with the product the second they walk into the store. At that point all they see is the product “calling their name” and they automatically give in. therefore I wanted to share some of the advice on how to stop impulse buying. First of all, it is crucial to have a budget. When we have a set amount of money that we can spend per day and we have a list of things we need to buy, we are less likely to buy something we were not planning on because we are scared to overspend. George Morris in his article “American Budgeting and Saving Behavior” states that: ”40% of Americans spend less due to budgeting”. If you would like to read more about his insight on saving up, feel free to visit the link https://www.incharge.org/financial-literacy/data/american-budgeting-saving-behavior/ . 

Another thing that could help us avoid impulse buying and improve our self-control is using cash. Isabelle Tavares in her article “8 Times When You Should Probably Still Use Cash” states that people who pay everywhere with cash tend to spend less since they have to watch themselves spend all the money and it is psychologically hard for them to accept. Visit https://www.rd.com/list/always-use-cash/#:~:text=You%20spend%20less%20money%20when,creative%20ways%20to%20save%20money to learn more about when it is smarter to use cash then debit or credit. 

Third, but not less powerful way to increase self-control when it comes to making buying decisions is to postpone the purchase and wait until you analyze whether the purchase is important enough to make it now. Mike Winters in his article “Avoid the 1-click option 100% of the time: 5 Ways to Trick Yourself into Saving Money” states that the best way to avoid impulse buying is to wait 24 hours to make the purchase. Feel free to visit https://www.cnbc.com/2023/04/20/how-to-trick-yourself-into-saving-money.html to learn more about this saving method.

Let’s wrap it up 

I do not necessarily agree with every one of these methods. For example, carrying cash around makes me spend even more money. I feel like once the money is withdrawn from my bank account, I am not being held accountable for it anymore and at that point it becomes just free money to spend. Also, giving myself a budget per day and limiting myself makes me want to spend more money and when I try to limit myself, the fact that I know that I can only spend a certain amount changes my mood and makes me depressed. Although, I feel like everyone is different and it is up to each one of us to grow up and start budgeting smarter if we want to have some lifelong savings. 

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