The influence of budgets on consumer spending
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Foundational research in marketing and behavioral economics has revealed a great deal about the psychology of budgeting. However, little is known about the extent to which budgets do (or do not) influence consumers’ real-world spending. The present research addresses this gap in the literature using naturally occurring budgeting and spending data provided by a popular personal finance app in the UK, a field experiment conducted with members of a Canadian credit union, and a financial diary study conducted with consumers in the US. Budget compliance is generally weak because budgets are wildly optimistic. However, optimistic budgets do help consumers reduce their spending. Moreover, the influence of budgets on spending is surprisingly sticky: consumers continue to reduce their spending six months after setting a budget, even though spending remains over-budget. Impulsive consumers exhibit worse budget compliance than less impulsive consumers. However, counterintuitively, this is predominately because more impulsive consumers set lower budgets than less impulsive consumers, not because they spend more. Finally, we provide evidence that budgets influence spending across several theory-informing psychographic variables. Taken together, these findings show that budgets can be both wildly optimistic and highly influential, and that beliefs about the nature of consumers’ budgets require updating.
Lukas , M F & Howard , R C C 2023 , ' The influence of budgets on consumer spending ' , Journal of Consumer Research , vol. 49 , no. 5 , ucac024 , pp. 697–720 . https://doi.org/10.1093/jcr/ucac024
Journal of Consumer Research
DescriptionFunding: For financial support, the authors thank the Dean's Office at Mays Business School.
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