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25% of Americans make purchases they later regret when under stress—here's how to avoid it

A new Thriving Wallet study found that 25% of Americans make purchases they later regret when experiencing stress.

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If you've ever had second thoughts about those shoes you bought while you were in a bad mood, you're not alone.

One in four Americans make purchases they later regret when experiencing significant stress, according to a Thriving Wallet survey. (Thriving Wallet is a new partnership between Thrive Global and Discover that launched with a mission to improve consumers' financial well-being.)

Is it going to be something that will give you sort of a momentary lift and then become a burden because you have to worry about how to pay your credit card bill?
Arianna Huffington
Founder and CEO of Thrive Global

Below, CNBC Select shares tips on how you can reduce regret and save money on spur-of-the-moment purchases, with insight from Arianna Huffington, founder and CEO of Thrive Global.

Practice the 72-hour rule

If you're stressed out, it can be a good idea to temporarily hold off on making any purchases. Instead, add the item to your wishlist and wait 72 hours before purchasing it.

Many times, you may forget about the item altogether, especially if it was a spur-of-the-moment idea. But if you still want it 72 hours later and have the money to pay for it, you can feel better about making the purchase.

"Often decisions around what we buy and buying things that we can't afford are so associated with our sense of identity and what we feel we need in order to function in our lives," Huffington tells CNBC Select.

Huffington suggests asking yourself a few questions to decide whether a purchase, such as a new bag, is worthwhile:

  1. Do you really need that bag?
  2. Is that bag essential for your survival?
  3. Is it going to be something that will give you sort of a momentary lift and then become a burden because you have to worry about how to pay your credit card bill?

Redeem credit card rewards

If you're under stress and want to make a purchase as a pick-me-up, consider redeeming any credit card cash back, points or miles to cover the cost.

Many of the best rewards credit cards allow you to redeem rewards as a statement credit to offset your bill or for gift cards. If you're having a bad day and want to indulge in a special dessert, redeem cash back from the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card* as a statement credit to cover the cost of a nice meal. Or you can redeem points from the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card for a gift card to a clothing store, such as Bloomingdale's or Macy's.

Take advantage of shopping discounts

Many credit cards offer exclusive shopping discounts when you pay with your credit card at select merchants. If you have a credit card backed by American Express, Chase or Bank of America, you can benefit from rotating offers which typically give you either a percentage or set dollar amount of cash back, credited to your account. In some cases, you may receive extra points.

For example, you might get a $15 statement credit when you spend $75 at a specific store, on top of the rewards you'd usually earn. These offers require activation and you must pay with your eligible card.

Offers also vary based on location and credit card and usually only last for a limited time. Plus, you may have to meet a minimum spending requirement, and there are maximum earning benefits.

Use statement credit perks

If you have a card that provides annual statement credits, such as the American Express® Gold Card, use them to your advantage. With the Amex Gold Card, you can benefit from $10 a month toward eligible dining expenses at participating restaurants, such as The Cheesecake Factory and Seamless. So, if you're stressed and need a treat, you'll feel less guilty ordering food from an eligible restaurant and taking advantage of the $10 statement credit. Terms apply. Enrollment required.

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*Information about the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.
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