70% of Americans Admit to Bad Spending Habits. Here Are 3 Big Ones to Break

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KEY POINTS

  • New data reveals that most consumers aren't happy with the way they spend.
  • Here are a few poor habits to try to improve upon.


Do your financial habits need work? The sooner you admit that, the sooner you can work on it.

Is saving money a big goal of yours? You might really struggle to achieve it if you don't manage to keep your spending in check. And if you've struggled in that regard, you're in good company.

In a new CouponFollow survey, 70% of respondents cite bad spending habits as one of their most harmful financial weaknesses. If you're unhappy with the way you spend, it may be time to work on addressing these poor habits.

1. Impulse buying

Ever hear the joke about the person who walks into their local big-box store for milk and bread and comes out with a loaded shopping cart and a $200 credit card tab? Chances are, you've been the subject of that not-so-funny joke on more than one occasion due to your tendency to impulse shop.

But it's not just big-box stores that open the door to impulse buying. You might see an ad flash across your screen while browsing social media, and poof -- you're spending $75 on shoes that weren't even on your radar. You might even fall victim to impulse buying at the supermarket when you see your favorite cookie brand on sale.

Impulse buying can not only lead to overspending -- it could also drive you into debt. And so it's best to break that habit.

A good way to do that is to implement the 24-hour rule, which goes like this: The next time you're tempted to buy something on a whim, force yourself to wait 24 hours. If, after that time has lapsed, you still feel you need the item in question, go for it -- provided you can afford it. But chances are, waiting a day will help you realize that some of those so-called must-haves are items you can pass on instead.

2. Not comparison shopping

When's the last time you stopped to see which cereal brand offers the best bang for your buck? Okay, to be fair, if you overspend on cereal, you're probably talking about wasting $1. But if you don't take the time to comparison shop for larger purchases, you could end up spending money needlessly, thereby limiting your ability to save it.

While a single wasted dollar on cereal won't bust your budget, if you consistently overpay for essentials, it could catch up to you. That's why it pays to spend a little time researching your purchases. Use apps like GasBuddy to find the cheapest gas stations in town, and browse your supermarket circulars to see which stores have your go-to items on sale. Shaving a few dollars off of your purchases here and there could go a long way.

3. Spending out of boredom

When the weather's cold or your plans have been canceled on a whim, you may be inclined to curl up on the couch with your phone, laptop, or tablet and spend an evening shopping to fill those hours. But that's a habit that could result in spending way more money than you can afford.

A better bet? Pledge not to shop out of boredom, and only go online to shop when there's a specific item you have in mind.

If you have a night when you're really bored and can't think of a way to keep yourself busy, try picking up the phone and calling an old friend or organizing those childhood photos you've been meaning to get to. But don't spend hours shopping and spending in the absence of something better to do.

If you're not happy with the way you spend money, rest assured you're not alone. Breaking these bad habits could help your financial picture improve. And once that happens, your outlook should follow suit.

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