Why We Spend Money On Stuff We Don’t Need

by Moin Uddin Ahmed Tipu

There’s a reason you just HAD to buy that new tech gadget you didn’t really need. Anthony shows us the science behind the things we love.

Learn More:
Ventromedial Prefrontal Cortex Encodes Emotional Value

Brain sets prices with emotional value

“You might be falling in love with that new car, but you probably wouldn’t pay as much for it if you could resist the feeling.”

“Playin’ with my money is like playin’ with my emotions!”

Watch More:
The Value of Money

Cost of Living On Mars

Shots of Awe: Ecstatic Surrender


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Ashley ASHLEYM August 24, 2013 - 11:47 PM

thats weird because unless ive wanted a certain thing for a while a have no impulse to buy. I hate spending money and it takes a lot for me to want to buy things. I actually never buy things I don't need the only time I did that was when I was a child, it wasn't my money and I didn't understand need and want back then. Commercials do nothing for me.

J U August 28, 2013 - 8:35 PM

I think it's about training yourself to frugal as well, usually negative experiences like being broke for a long time helps as well as not window shopping for a while. B/c I don't window shop, whenever I go into store I think "do I really need this? I have lived for x-amount of time without it." Also, having people with good self restraint that don't mind asking those questions helps. My biggest thing with big purchases is I never buy them on the spot.

BasedMace August 30, 2013 - 1:05 PM

I make bad purchases

TallyBeanieBear September 18, 2013 - 6:53 AM

i bought a 3 foot long fork…. I NEEDED IT!!!!!! it was only 3 dollars….. IT WAS A GOOD BUY!

Gemma Suen September 20, 2013 - 12:34 AM

When I first see something I want, I usually wait a week to a couple of months for the price to drop and to see if I still need/want it. I'm not a very rich person and I'd hate the idea of being broke. :<

Michael N September 20, 2013 - 1:40 PM

Guys keep spending money… otherwise all the businesses go bankrupt and the economy tanks.

C Kimberly September 23, 2013 - 2:26 PM


Koraa September 28, 2013 - 8:42 AM

I sent $50 on rabbit food and I don't have a rabbit

Koraa September 28, 2013 - 8:42 AM

There was a cute bunny on the front of it

thriveni saidam October 9, 2013 - 5:19 PM

Excellent video, Thanks

I used to spend a lot of money and on different people , but when i tracked my spending using an iPhone app "spending money" by lokesh, i got to know myself better and now
I am very wise spending and i save a lot of money

Joselyn Leo October 17, 2013 - 3:01 PM

My wallet was happy. It was well fed and had ample money to eat. But then steam sales, boot sales, fall sales, LoL harrowing 2013 skins….yeah… >.>

thepkreaper October 26, 2013 - 7:10 AM

My grandmother tells me if you see something you want wait for a month if you still want it go for it.

ShadowTheSoulless October 30, 2013 - 3:13 AM

i'm one of those people who want alot of stuff, memorize the price of it, put it in my cart, then start putting things out of my cart the closer to the check out i go, it bothers my friend who i normally shop with. or if i have a lot of money then i spend it on things i dont need but i like, example:eyeliner, a candle,paint brushes.or if im low on money im just really really picky.

ShadowTheSoulless October 30, 2013 - 3:13 AM

ive wanted the same games for months, still havent bought them lol.

ShadowTheSoulless October 30, 2013 - 3:14 AM

wallet before steam sale= obese
wallet after steam sale= anorexic

ShadowTheSoulless October 30, 2013 - 3:18 AM

I feel this way but only about myself, if i have 20 dollars i wont spend any of it on myself, but before i know it ive spent half of it on my friend, he never asked for anything, but yet i end up leaving the store buying him things. i feel guilty spending money on myself though.

ShadowTheSoulless October 30, 2013 - 3:19 AM

i saw a halloween bucket that i liked cus it has bats on it, my justification , its now a pencil and random things holder.

Purple Pinkie Pie October 31, 2013 - 8:43 AM

i bought a bunch of old books, i might not read them i just like how they look on the shelf :

ninjangleo November 9, 2013 - 11:23 PM

I control myself VERY well. Even when I buy from a whim, it's because that day I gave myself permission to go into a store and buy whatever I feel I want. My rule is "If I'm going to use this at least three (3) times a month, it's worth it"

David Rivera February 1, 2014 - 10:36 PM

emotion tell you what you want not what you need.  Emotions are drives in our lives mind you with no emotion you would do nothing at all.  It is a balance of emotion knowing what to put it on and how to control it or work with it but it is a never ending battle, not to fight emotion but to work with it.  I want the chocolate cake but i will gain weight which will win the pleasure of the chocolate cake or the logic, id vs super ego.  to balance you work out or eat less so you can give your id what it wants within reason.  I still end up eating that cake with or without the work out damn delicious cake.

modernmarvel March 11, 2014 - 7:04 AM

My money goes to food and student loans….they own me

My Little Love April 5, 2014 - 11:18 AM

Is good

Brandyn May 5, 2014 - 10:47 PM

I'm not sure if I'm good with money or terrible with money. Since I'm 16 and my parents make quite a bit of money off of their jobs I never really had to worry about money and therefor spend anything I get from birthdays and other holidays on something like video games, but at the same time I always try to get as much as I can out of that money. For example my logic is usually something like "I could buy that new game for 60$ but at the same time I could also get 3 games for 20$ each." So yeah still not sure if I'm good with money or terrible with money.

CrazyBeautiful May 23, 2014 - 5:47 AM

Im good with money and I like to shop when I see good deals.

NetworKing May 25, 2014 - 11:24 AM

I usally even if some emotion thing comes in i usally try to either maybe give a thoght is this something i need, have use for? I grew up with devorced parents, my mom strugled to find work, and keep it. I think that made me fairly resourcefull. I was always a tech geek, i would usally find some way to reuse some thing sombody gave to me because it was old, something wasn't quite right with it, etc. I still try and use something to a point that it breaks down totally, or it's so far outdated it's potinial don't justify keeping it. I thinkl at least a few of my friends knew how to salvage/fix stuff the way i do.

After getting my AAS in network administration, i also kind of started to see things in other ways too. E.G a large storage aray from like 2005 holds 24TB of data for a 19inX2ftX6FT rack of equipment. I could easilly fit that amount of data into a shoebox sized device now. Power usage allone makes old sytem pretty much impractical.

sanfran91 May 31, 2014 - 12:04 AM

I'm great with my money, I can hold back to the point of extreme frustration. I always let everything else go first (including, spending money on other people, also when it's not their birthday or anything), before buying things I only want, not need. But my money almost always runs out before that happens. Ah, the life of a student.

Danzz August 31, 2014 - 1:36 AM

I cut my money into sections: needs, food, wants, and savings before u even touch my money. There was an instance last week that I wanted a haircut and I had to pull out a 20 from my savings accnt, but that is really uncommon. Aside from that one time, my system ussually works

Danzz August 31, 2014 - 1:41 AM

My sister is like that which is really annoying lol. It would be ok but everything she takes out ends up in weird places(pillow on top of the candy section or smthin like that). Yea it's the employees job to put it back but y do u make more work for them

JoshCooksVegan October 23, 2015 - 10:19 PM

I have anxiety so when i walk into a shop i never really feel relaxed, therefor i never spend huge amounts of money, never! im hoarding it all, good in some ways, bad in others

Yeti January 16, 2016 - 6:34 AM

If we only spent money on things we need we could all live on minimum wage. trying to avoid letting your emotions interfere is stupid.

Miranda McCaslin February 29, 2016 - 8:14 PM

it's because fucking advertiser force feed us bull shit

Honchko August 15, 2016 - 5:57 AM

hmpf I need money to get anything

Jo Moody October 18, 2016 - 4:55 PM

Im so fucking rational

kjchicago1 January 23, 2017 - 4:21 AM

Sometimes you have to learn how to save more money

In charge June 17, 2017 - 6:46 AM

What you say, 'the only thing you can do for now is become aware of it' is very true. Once you see the dynamic, you can break it

Ky Vergara November 24, 2017 - 7:50 PM

I spent $20 all on chips… wow

Black Death 1347 December 11, 2017 - 5:09 PM

It's not my fault that there's so much awesome shit out there that turns me on, so of course I'm gonna buy it if I can. It's not my lack of impulse control that's to blame, it's the fault of all the awesome shit.

CDArchives January 14, 2018 - 9:35 AM

This host looks like Leonard.

Simple Person March 5, 2018 - 10:54 AM

One word: Materialism

artiscoole March 3, 2019 - 1:06 PM

Couple of days ago i went to a supermarket to buy an eraser, mechanical pencils and a cheap scarf. Changed my mind on the scarf. And I bought the pencils and eraser. Contemplated purchasing some sweets or snakcs. Maybe it's just my taste buds are neutral but everything seemed meh to me. It's a financial advantage when no incentive exists to purchase something

DiaborMagics August 15, 2020 - 8:11 PM

i dont have this problem with physical goods, usually. but with digital ones? Especially games? Oof. It's like its more important to buy a game now than to actually have it or play it. Its very satisfying to buy them, especially if Ive been eyeing them for a long time, but when push comes to shove I often end up playing the same games Ive always played, maybe 1 or 2 new ones and then i wonder when im going to play a, b, c.
But still when something comes up I want to buy, I will most likely buy it, even if i wait half a year to do so. And I may not even touch it for more than an hour or so once I have it.

Its weird.

J Bakes October 4, 2020 - 7:08 AM

Everyone keep spending money. My stocks keep going up, thanks.

Vanessa Yaeggy March 6, 2021 - 3:24 AM

I will save, save, save until I can splurge comfortably without breaking the bank.