Behavioural psychologist Dr. Linda Papadopoulos has teamed up with Vodafone, which recently found that two-fifths (43 percent) of shoppers now start saving for sales up to five months in advance, so they can make the most of discounts and reduce the impact on their finances.
Keen to set – and achieve – some money resolutions in 2023? Papadopoulos shares the following tips…
1. Don’t set unrealistic goals
“I think that’s one of the main reasons people give up on resolutions – they’re too big, they’re too ambitious, and in a sense, you’re setting yourself up for a disaster,” says Papadopoulos.
“Don’t forget, the end goal might be to save x amount of money, or to run x amount of kilometres, but that’s not going to happen overnight.”
2. Watch your money grow
With many people managing their money digitally these days, money sitting in savings accounts can sometimes seem a bit invisible.
Papadopoulos suggests regularly logging in to your account so you can actually notice your savings pot grow bigger – that way you’ll feel rewarded by seeing the benefits of all your hard work.
3. Hold yourself to account
“Reinforce yourself,” she says. “Every time you find yourself spending on stuff frivolously, become accountable. Some people will write this down.”
4. Try to plan significant purchases
With prices rising sharply, it can be very hard to keep a rein on spending. But Papadopoulos highlights Vodafone’s research, which found that many people plan well in advance for sales events.
She says that if it is at all possible to save up a bit of money in advance, “that’s a wonderful thing”. That way, it won’t feel like such a dent on your bank balance when you come to making any important purchases.
5. Consider whether a purchase will bring long-term value
If you are planning a significant purchase, however, the psychologist suggests thinking about sustainability and the long term. This could include asking yourself, for example: “How am I going to resell it? How long will I use this for? How much value is this going to add to my life?”
This could help you to weigh up whether a purchase is really worth it.
6. Create time to think
“Special offers” and discounts can sometimes make shoppers feel they must act quickly. It’s a good idea to avoid this pattern.
“When you see these offers, as wonderful as they might be, you need to not buy into this sense of urgency,” says Papadopoulos. “The first thing I would say is to take a beat. This does two things. Number one, it allows you to cool off. So, is this an impulse buy? Do I really need this item?
“It actually allows you time to do some research. So this company’s offering it for x. Can I find it for 10 percent less somewhere else? Are there places that do trade-ins?
“If you can do that, it means that when you do pull the trigger on it, you’ve actually thought it through, you really want it, and you’ve made the best choice in terms of value.”
7. Consider your future self
Sometimes when we decide not to make an impulse buy, it can feel like we’ve missed out. But such thoughts can be flipped – so that it’s not about having something or not, but a choice between having something right now, or having another perhaps better option in the future.
“I can take care of myself today and buy this thing that maybe I don’t need, or I can take care of that future person that I’m going to be, and enjoy that holiday and buy that car and gadget that I really need,” Papadopoulos explains. “That is about reminding yourself of your ‘why’ – why am I doing this?”
She says if your long-term savings goal is an item or a holiday: “Go online and look at it, think about what you like about it, engage with it. The other thing you might do is look at how the savings are going… Anticipation is a good thing,” she adds.
In the meantime, keep an eye out to see if a retailer has a sale or a price drop while you’re saving up, she suggests.
8. Finally, don’t let a ‘blip’ throw you off course
“Our journey towards any goal is going to have some obstacles,” Papadopoulos assures. “You have to anticipate failure, if you want to call it that, roadblocks.
“Use it for a positive and say: ‘Right, this was a blip but actually the goal remains the same – I want to do x or y, I want to make this behavioural change, I want to make this financial change’. Don’t worry about falling off the wagon, just get right back on and keep going.”