Impulse spending is perhaps the most common bad financial habit we all have. Every now and then we all feel the urge to buy something on impulse. This is risky for buying spontaneously could harm our finances.
With a little practice and some simple strategies, you can take control over your urges and start spending wisely. Here are some simple steps to begin with:
Shop with a list
Plan your list before going shopping. Write down all the items you need. Take the list with you and focus only on the things you planned to buy. Stick to the list and do not get distracted by sudden impulse urges. Make your purchases intentional, deliberate, and above all necessary.
Impulse buying is a dangerous habit that can get you into some serious financial woes. If you love shopping, then, make simple rules to live by whenever you feel the urge to buy something not necessary. Do not buy something just because you happen to be in a mall and don’t want to go home empty-handed.
Don’t shop when you are upset
There is an old saying: “Do not promise when you are happy, nor decide when you are angry.” Do not go shopping when you are angered, upset, or depressed, otherwise you risk losing a lot of money on little impulse buys that you think will make you feel better. There are purchases that may bring you some temporary relief, but after realising you’ve spent on something not really necessary, you will feel that sadness, stress, or anger again.
Go shopping alone
Without somebody to check on your spending decisions, you are easily tempted or persuaded to buy things you haven’t intended to. Also, do not shop together with impulse buyers, too! They might influence you to buy unnecessary things, too! It is better to go shopping alone, or with someone you know is frugal.
Limit access to your money
Leave your credit card at home, please. Also, bring the exact cash you need to buy the items you’ve listed your list. Make it a habit to pay in cash and not thru prepaid cards or credit cards. This way you actually ‘touch’ and ‘see’ the money you are spending. This makes you consciously aware of your personal finances, and this will help you make better spending choices.
Keep your financial goals in mind
Plan everytime you shop. Shop with a clear mind, and do not get swayed by special offers or amazing discounts. Keep your savings goal in mind all the time. Imagine how your purchases will affect your savings goals in the future.
Follow the time rule
Reign over your impulse urges by setting a rule that you can only buy something you want after a certain waiting period (say, a week, a day, a year, a few months, etc.). Setting a waiting time will help you discern whether you really need to buy it or not. You might even realize you don’t want it any longer or that you can purchase it at a better price. Delayed gratification leads to greater satisfaction than impulse buying which leads to greater buyer’s remorse.
Don’t be fooled by sales
Great deals, discounts, clearance sales, coupons – these are all very tempting words that can lure us into buying unnecessary things. More often than not, we end up buying items we don’t really need. Discounts do not always mean saving. A good deal is not always a bargain. Instead, shop wisely instead of buying cheap.
Question every purchase
Before buying are yourself a couple of questions first. Will this purchase improve or simplify my life? Do I need this, or do I simply want this? What is the cost per wear/per use of this item? How often will I use this (for tools) or wear this (for clothing)? Am I really getting my money’s worth out of this purchase?
Buying something you simply want yet can easily do without will simple result in cluttering your house with useless things.
Stick to your budget
The best way to determine whether you are an impulse buyer or not is to set a budget and diligently monitor your spending or expenses. Monitoring how you spend will help you assess and understand your priorities and identify any potential problem areas. A budget can open up your eyes to any bad spending habits and encourage you to address them. Always make a want-list and try to fit it in your budget. Allowing yourself some discretionary spending is not that bad as long as you have planned for it in advance. Just do not spend over your means.