Be honest. Ever bought anything on impulse? Chances are you have, and as a new survey finds -- often regrettably. Our Financially Fit team recently teamed up with the National Endowment for Financial Education to ask over 2,000 Americans what's your biggest shopping regret.
The survey finds an astonishing two-thirds of adults bought something on impulse in the last month, and 71% regretted an impulse purchase in the last year. The biggest shopping regret? Clothing and shoes. Not surprisingly, women are significantly more likely than men to splurge on a pair of heels.
The next regret is spending money on dining out. Toys and tech products tied for third with men twice as likely to splurge on gadgets.
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All these regrets are costly. Those who felt remorse over an impulse purchase wasted an average of $730 a year on unwanted merchandise. Men actually spent about $350 more per year than women.
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"There's so much cultural expectation about women being the impulse shoppers, but we really aren't. We're actually spending far less than the guys," says Patricia Seaman, Senior Director, National Endowment for Financial Education.
Nearly half of shoppers who buy impulsively say sales and discounts are the number one trigger. Others cite extra cash, such as a tax refund, lottery winnings and an inheritance. Ten percent say life events such as a stressful day or promotion spur them to make unplanned purchases.
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"It's really common. It is about things that attract your eye, things that you didn't plan for. You get that visceral reaction because something's happened in your day maybe. You're feeling bad about something. You want to feel better," says Seaman.
To avoid future regrets, keep your guard up while shopping by sticking to your list and never grazing or browsing areas of the store or mall that don't contain items on your list. Next, avoid touching or holding merchandise when browsing. Researchers have found that we connect emotionally with a product after touching it, making it difficult to resist. And the sales staff knows this. That's why we're encouraged to "try before we buy."
NEFE's 'Spendster' Web site aims to help curb spending through the help of an online ommunity. Users can upload and share confessional videos about wasteful purchases and watch others' admissions of shopping guilt. The Spendster Calculator lets you to determine how much you could have saved or put to better use, like traveling, instead of throwing your money away on things you don't need.
"When people impulse buy, they just think about the amount they've spent that day, but really, every impulse purchase has this long-term ramification," Seaman says.
What have been some of your biggest shopping regrets? Connect with me on Twitter @Farnoosh and use the hashtag #finfit.
Special thanks to Ruby & Jenna for making this video possible.