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Budgets backfire more often than not, study shows

By Nkoyo Iyamba | Posted - Mar. 27, 2012 at 5:34 p.m.


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SALT LAKE CITY — Some of us tend to be extremely budget conscious these days. That should be a good thing right? A new study suggests it may not be such a good thing for our wallets.

The BYU study suggests that budgeting starts in the mind. So the more you think about how much you won't spend, the more you'll actually end up spending.

We asked our Facebook friends what they do to budget.

Julie Avery is a conscientious mom when it comes to spending money.

"We go over budget every time, which kind of makes it silly to have a budget," she said.

She was not surprised to hear that more than half of people surveyed spent more money when they made budgets.

"That's why we kind of plan our activity around our food budget," Avery said. "Whether or not we can get out and do the zoo this week or we need to go to the park a couple of extra times instead."

BYU Marketing professor Jeff Larson, co-authored the study. He found that consumers spent up to 50-percent more when they started shopping with a price in mind than those who didn't.

What now? Do we stop budgeting?
Researchers suggest two things:
  1. After you judge your purchase based on quality ... Then you literally have to force yourself to re-consider price.
  2. Before you think about price, consider what qualities and features matter most to you, and what you can live without.

Larson said instead of thinking, "I can spend up to "X" amount on a particular item," consumers should focus on how much is necessary to spend.

"You really ought to think about, ‘Well, you know what, if I really only bought a $250,000 house, how much of my mortgage could I be saving every month to go do other things?'"

Larson said most of us start out thinking we want the cheaper item but when we begin shopping, we end up spending money on higher quality items. And higher quality usually means more money.

"This is what usually pushes me over my budget," Avery said. "But we prefer the quality items. We definitely do. I feel like my family can tell the difference and we feel healthier."

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