5. Opening a “Big Sale!” Email
We’ve all joined the odd email list (or ten), and we understand the temptation of a 50-percent-off message landing in our inbox—especially when there’s a time limit attached to the discount (“24-hour sale! For your eyes only!”). But online shopping is a slippery slope, and it’s hard to stop spending once you’ve started.
How to Combat Temptation: First of all, recognize that it’s never a great deal if you end up buying something you don’t need. Then, “Try and figure out what sorts of psychological tactics marketers are using,” Galef says. “For example, that 24-hour email is using the principle of scarcity, in which a purchase becomes so much more tempting if it’s available for a limited time only. When you read an advertisement, you can treat it like a game: Spot the tactics! How are they appealing to you? That keeps you on your guard and makes you less likely to fall for it.”
And if you caved and clicked, Solomon suggests developing a habit every time you get ready to pay for something: “Before you check out, automatically go through your cart and ask yourself one of these questions: What are three other things I could do with this money? How many hours would I need to work to pay for this? Would I miss it in a month if I didn’t buy this now?” By the time you get through your questions, you’ll be better set up to resist the purchase.