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Arts & Culture

22 tips for 2022: Spend less by choosing what'll bring you lasting joy

Illustration of a woman sitting on a flying credit card as it zooms through space, with flames coming out of the back. She shops online on her phone.
LA Johnson/NPR

We've all done it: grabbed that candy bar at the grocery store checkout, made another Amazon purchase at midnight, committed to that pair of aspirational wrist guards, because this summer, you're definitely going to use those Rollerblades.

But before you hit the "purchase" button on your next impulse-buy, ask yourself: Do I want it? Do I like it? Do I need it? Do I love it?

"Likes are short-term joy. That means in less than a year, I'll have forgotten about this thing," says personal finance expert Tiffany Aliche, also known as The Budgetnista. "Wants are just instant gratification where not even a day later, I'm not going to be interested in this thing."

Aliche wants to make sure that what she's buying is a love — that it will bring lasting joy.

Sound familiar? We have all purchased some wants — whether it's a bright purple sequin T-shirt or an artsy tote bag from a concert or rollerblades that are now gathering dust in the closet. Research from 2019 shows that the average American spends almost $18,000 a year on nonessentials. And nearly 1 in 5 says they're spending more now than they were before the pandemic.

Don't worry if it doesn't come easily at first, Aliche says. "It's a muscle that you have to practice." Just keep asking yourself: Do I like it? Do I want it? Do I need it? Do I love it?


Here's more on how to spend savvier and stop stress-spending.

22 tips for 2022 is edited and curated by Dalia Mortada, Arielle Retting, Janet W. Lee, Beck Harlan, Beth Donovan and Meghan Keane. This tip comes from an episode of Life Kit hosted by Lauren Migaki and produced by Andee Tagle.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.