After three years of blogging and over 700 posts written, I’ve noticed one common theme when it comes to struggles people have with spending: Impulse Purchases. Whether it’s a pack of gum at the grocery store or a new shirt at the mall, impulse purchases are a sneaky phenomenon that can turn even the best of budgets upside down.
More often than not, impulse purchases aren’t necessary. They aren’t part of the budget or a spending plan. They’re those moments of weakness when that $5 latte sounds too good to pass up or that magazine beckons you to buy it as you’re waiting in line. No matter how frugal you are or how good you are with your money, we all fall victim to the occasional impulse purchase. While the intermittent purchase isn’t all that bad, left unchecked, impulse purchases can quickly spiral out of control.
If you’ve found yourself with an impulse buying control problem, check out the following tips to kick it to the curb before it wrecks all of your hard work:
Take a Breather
Regardless of what the “gotta have it now” purchase is, instill a rule that allows for a breather when you find yourself lusting after something that’s not on your list. It could be as simple as sleeping on it for a night or walking away from the display–or it could be as complicated as waiting an extended period of time or creating a list of pros and cons. Whatever your break of choice, make sure to be consistent with your effort to take a break so you’re able to fully decide if spending your money is truly worth it.
Enlist Your Friends and Family
In a moment of weakness, it can be difficult to pull yourself back from the edge. Whenever you’re feeling weak in your resolve to avoid impulse purchases, phone or text a friend or family member who you’ve enlisted to help talk some sense into you. Have a frank discussion with this person before you’re out shopping, explain your need to make some changes in your financial life, and ask them for some tough love should you ever reach out. Remember that they’re helping you so don’t be upset when they do what you’ve asked them to!
Check Your Mood
If you’re sad, angry, stressed, or exhausted, step.away.from.the.mall. Research proves that when we’re not on our game, we’re much more susceptible to weakness. For someone who struggles with impulse purchases, this can mean quite a struggle. Hone your ability to monitor your mood and stress level and make smart choices about avoiding potential temptation when you’re not feeling quite like yourself. Get some exercise, call a friend, take a nap. Whatever it is, don’t go shopping until the storm passes!
Be a Savvy Shopper
Here’s a newsflash: If you’re out shopping and see a sales sign posting a great discount, you’re not “saving” money by purchasing more items! That 30 percent off is a great deal–but only if you truly need that pair of pants or shoes. If you weren’t already shopping for them and they’re not already on your list, you’re wasting your money on an impulse purchase! Learn to sniff out which “sales” are truly sales and work to maximize your savings for the things you actually need. Your wallet–and your overstuffed closet–will thank you.
How do you avoid impulse purchases?
My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.