Do you ever find yourself spending money you don’t have, on items you don’t need? If so, you’re not alone. Martin Lindstrom is the author of Buyology: Truth and Lies about Why We Buy. He launched a massive study trying to find out what makes us buy certain items. What he discovered is that retailers use our own brains against us! You can retrain your brain and keep your money in your wallet, with these three tricks:

  • Never pick up or “test drive” merchandise that’s out of your price range. Researchers found that people who touched an object for just thirty seconds were willing to pay more for it. Why? Because in under a minute of touching, our brains begin to form an attachment to the object, and that rational part of our brain that’s saying “You came in for a printer cable. You don’t NEED a new camera” shuts off. Manufacturers know this. So, they spend millions on how an object feels in your hand. So, only pick it up if it’s what you came in for.

  • Next, always eat before you shop. In a study, shoppers were sent to a mall with a strict budget – but then bombarded with the scent of cookies. 67% of the shoppers who smelled the cookies made impulse buys. The reason is that good smells put us into what scientist call a “hot state,” which makes people lose sight of their goals and act impulsively. When that happens, budgets go out the window and the chance that you’ll make an impulsive buy goes up. However, if you feel full, you’ll be less affected by smells and stay on track.

  • Ignore the special features. When you see a long list of specs or special features on a product, the pleasure centers in your brain are activated, even if you don’t actually know what any of them mean. So if you’re looking at new HDTV, try to explain each thing on the spec list. If you can’t explain comb-filters or how contrast ratios work then you probably don’t need them. Instead, go with your gut. Studies show that people who over-think their purchases tend to make poorer decisions than people who go with their instincts.