You've probably heard of decision fatigue. It's part of what makes it easier to get things done earlier in the day rather than later. You only have so much bandwidth to help yourself make choices. Sometimes that includes the choice not to buy something.
Researchers at Rice University have found a simple (and free) trick to help curb impulse purchases. We already know that it's just as easy to justify nabbing something you see on a shelf as something you order through a screen. The team at Rice has given us a formula for — you got it — mindfulness when we're low on impulse control.
All it takes to curb your enthusiasm for that dopamine opportunity in front of you is a list. Study participants created lists about possessions they already own, particularly functional items they use frequently. Here's one example: "I have a pair of light Nike running shoes I used this morning. I bought them about a year ago for about $80. The reason I bought them was because my brother has a same pair which I tried on and really liked … Sometimes I use them at work since I do a lot of walking and they are so comfortable."
It's not complicated, but it also decreased those participants' willingness to pay for new items — on average, by about 14 percent. This method may be especially helpful for some of the things we're most likely to impulse-buy: practical items like cleaning supplies. Try it the next time you're staring at a must-have after a long day at work. Your budget and your impulses could thank you for it.