Use The Stranger Test To Reduce Impulse Purchases

Use The Stranger Test To Reduce Impulse Purchases

When faced with a purchase, many people fall into the trap of only asking themselves if they want it and if they can afford it at that moment in time. Cut down on impulse purchases by using the Stranger Test.

Photo by JMRosenfeld.

How does the Stranger Test work? A reader from Five Cent Nickel explains:

The Stranger Test is an excellent way to frame the financial significance of the purchase.

When considering a purchase, picture a stranger offering you [the cash value of the purchase]or the item in question. Which is of greater value you? Which would you choose?

If a stranger were to come up and offer you $3 to not buy that cup of coffee you might reply “Thanks, but I’d really like this cup of coffee.” But if your response over a bigger purchase like a new HDTV set or a computer would be “Hmmm $800 would be a pretty nice credit card payment…” it’s probably best to put your funds to use fixing more immediate problems.

What tricks do you use to help yourself be more frugal? Sound off with your favourite ones in the comments below.

Save Money By Questioning Your Purchases [FiveCentNickel]


    • I’d take the money from the stranger, thank him/her for being so generous and then buy what I wanted with said donation.

      Whoever knew we lived in such a wonderful world where complete strangers just give you money?

  • I’m not entirely convinced that this would work.

    If I wanted to buy a cup of coffee for $3, had the $3 to spare, and a stranger offered me $3 not to buy it, wouldn’t I have $6 in my pocket afterward?

    How does that possibly help me decide if I /should/ buy that cup of coffee or not?

  • It’s like you don’t have the money, and a stranger is offering you the cash or to buy the item for you.
    It’s a mental trick to make you think about the value of the cash, rather than the emotional value of the item.

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