Have you ever been in a situation when you stepped out to buy yourself a dress but ended up buying a pair of matching shoes and accessories too without really planning to do so? Or you signed in on Amazon to buy a book but ended up buying something else as well from the suggestions tab? Well, you can chill now for this is quite normal and is a part of the typical human behavior. Impulse buying is harmless as long as it’s smaller in amount and doesn’t disturb your financial peace.
You don’t want to buy an expensive pair of shoes impulsively only to regret it later because it hasn’t only left you some dollars short but has also pulled you back from meeting your financial goals. This is when it becomes necessary to monitor your spending habits and control impulse buying:
1. Step out to shop with a plan – Make a list of items you are supposed to purchase and tell yourself that this is all you’ll be buying. A proper plan works as a psychological control and will always make you wonder if you really need the things that you didn’t plan to buy.
2. Always make a list of your impulse purchases – Every time you make an impulse purchase, write it down on a piece of paper and put it up on your refrigerator. At the end of the month, monitor all your impulse buying decisions and think what all could have been avoided or delayed. You sure can’t go back and undo the decisions made in past but you can surely keep a check on your future buying decisions by doing this.
3. Make room for a small amount of impulse spending every month – I’ve always been an advocate of the fact that you shouldn’t be too harsh on yourself. If you happen to look at a chocolate box which you want to buy because you haven’t had a chocolate for days, go for it. Always make room for a small amount of impulse spending every month, be it $50 or $100 or even more if your budget permits. But make it a point to stick to this tiny amount.
4. Sleep on the decision before actually making the purchase – When you stick to the ‘Waiting period rule’ before making an impulse purchase, you actually give yourself some time to think about what’s necessary and what’s not. There’s hardly any time for you to make a smart decision when you’re standing in the queue for bill clearance and a box of your favorite candies catches your attention. Take your own sweet time to think before buying the things you didn’t plan to buy. You might just let go of the thing thinking that it isn’t really something you need.
5. Don’t shop when you’re emotionally triggered – Psychologists say that you’re more prone to impulse spending when you are emotionally triggered or feeling down. Emotions hardly let you make any smart decisions and you find yourself regretting later about the things you impulsively bought because you were feeling low. The best way to get control of a situation like this is not to step out to shop when you’re emotional or have had a bad day. Wait for the emotions to die down and then step out to shop.
6. Try visiting the store/mall with someone and not alone – I’m not too much of a shopaholic when it comes to apparels or shoes. But I always feel tempted towards things like chocolates, chips, and packaged food. What’s worse is my habit of buying more than what I actually need. So I’ve made it a habit to always take my sister along for grocery shopping as she keeps a check on what I might buy impulsively.
So I’m suggesting it out of my personal experience to always take someone along with you when you visit a store. This person can be anyone who can keep a check on you while you buy something and can say ‘No’ wherever necessary.
7. Take only the amount of cash you’ll need – If you think that you can’t resist the temptation of buying random products, do yourself a favor and take only the amount of cash that you’ll be needing to make the planned purchase. When you won’t have the money for the things that aren’t a part of your list, there will be no room for you to buy it.
8. Think of your financial goals before making an impulse buy – Sometimes, merely giving a thought to your financial needs and goals help you make smarter decisions. Ask yourself some questions before making a buying decision:
- “Do I really need this thing?”
- “Can it possibly disturb my monthly budget?”
- “Can this thing be replaced by something that’s needed more?”
If you have an answer to all these questions, you will always make the right decisions.
9. Unsubscribe from the email lists that are constantly prompting you to buy – You happen to sign up for a shopping app and within no time, your inbox is infested with the promotional mails. Some products even create unnecessary wants convincing you to effect a purchase. When you are on a saving spree but can’t ignore the mails, unsubscribe from the email lists that are making you fall for a product you don’t really need.
10. Minimize the damage, if it can’t be controlled – If you can’t control your impulse buying behavior or if you don’t want to be too harsh on yourself, the least you can do is minimize the damage caused. Buy a small box of chocolates instead of a bigger one, it will cost you less. Buy it from the place that’s offering discount on the same thing.
Impulse spending can be fun when you have room for it. But it’s always good to be smarter when making your buying decisions as it goes on to impact your financial life in the long run.
If you have any questions for me, feel free to write me at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop a comment down there. I would love to hear anything from you!