3 Spending Habits to Unlearn Now
Whether you're shopping, going to a wedding or even setting up a budget, watch out for these savings-sabotaging behaviors.
Photo: George Doyle/Stockbyte/Thinkstock
1. Deciding to Buy a New Sundress While Wondering, "Is It Hot in Here?"
Stores can be pretty sneaky about getting you to spend money, whether it's hanging up flattering mirrors or offering you a cup of green tea to sip while you shop. Add another factor to the list: the ambient temperature in the store can make you pay more. Researchers at Columbia University found that people sitting in a 79-degree room were willing to pay at least 10 percent more for a given product than people sitting in a 64-degree room. They think it's because when people feel physical warmth, it generates positive feelings, which can translate to placing a higher value on a product. Which just reiterates the importance of not succumbing to an impulse; if you notice that it feels hot or stuffy in a store, it may be best to step out. If that dress is still calling your name when you're sipping an iced coffee, then maybe you should buy it.
2. Feeling Like You Have No Choice But to Spend $384 to Dance to "It's Raining Men"
That Pinterest-y wedding may look DIY, with its mason-jar-wildflower-wrapped-in-twine centerpieces, but it's actually pricier than ever to attend one of these low-key affairs. A recent study found that the average cost for guests to attend a wedding is $592, up 75 percent from two years ago. Don't automatically assume you must fly across the country to attend one of these events, says Jamie Miles, editor of TheKnot.com. Most couples plan on 10 to 20 percent of their guests RSVPing "no" (and they may expect an even higher rate for a destination wedding). As soon as you get a save-the-date, let the couple know if you can't attend. And if you aren't going, consider sending a gift that's more generous than you would've bought had you been planning to attend. Or, treat the couple to a celebratory dinner the next time they're in your area.
3. Throwing Everything from "Just Because" Flowers to "Why Not?" Cocktails into "Miscellaneous"
We know that a spending budget is the linchpin in our financial plans. And while many categories make total sense (housing, food, transportation), there's one that many of us probably misuse: miscellaneous. Financial advisors say that lumping seemingly "random" expenses into a convenient "anything" category can lead to missing things that could be trimmed or cut. (For instance, if you do find yourself buying gerbera daisies on a weekly basis, then they belong in your "housing" budget.) Tom Fredrickson, a CFP in New York City, says it's okay to have a catchall area of your budget, but it should be small—ideally, no more than 5 percent of your overall spending.