Avoiding impulse purchases is one of the key virtues of personal finance. If there’s something you want to buy, wait for a bit before you decide to buy. Now a new research suggests that pausing for just 25 seconds before buying a chocolate bar can be enough to remove the craving in favor of a more healthy snack.
Most people who wait a week before buying a wasteful big item never go back to buy the same item. Similarly, a trial using vending machines in the US found that having to wait for unhealthy treats made them less desirable.
Scientists installed countdown timers on the machines, forcing customers who had ordered chocolate or other unhealthy products to wait 25 seconds before the items became available. They were able to change their mind and select a healthy snack at any point during the countdown, which would then become instantly available, meanwhile those who selected something healthy in the first instance were not forced to wait at all.
The researchers found found that delaying by just 25 seconds increases customers’ chance to purchase healthy snacks.
“Having to wait for something makes it less desirable,” said Dr Brad Appelhans, who led the research at the Rush University Medical Centre in Chicago. “Research shows that humans strongly prefer immediate gratification, and this preference influences choices and behaviour in daily life.”
You can apply this waiting period for most of your purchases to avoid impulse buying and spending on wasteful products.