If you’re a spender and you know it, clap your hands.
Funny memes are going around the internet that explain the difficulty of purchasing just the one item you went to Target for. In fact, one of my favorite memes shows a woman with two carts full of items and the caption reads, “*goes to Target to buy a pen* $3,456.00 later” and she is in the checkout line. While this is obviously extreme, but I think most of us have been there. I really can’t tell you how many times I have walked into a store for one item, saw a few things on sale, and suddenly my one item has turned into six items. I’d like to pretend my cart full of items got there by magic, but the reality isn’t so enchanting.
According to Wikipedia, “An impulse purchase or impulse buying is an unplanned decision to buy a product or service, made just before a purchase. One who tends to make such purchases is referred to as an impulse purchaser or impulse buyer.”
When you think of impulse buying, you may think of people making large, lavish purchases but the purchases come in all different amounts. For example, stores are notorious for putting products near the register, but it isn’t very often that they are actually products you need. So, you walk over to check out, and you see a movie on sale for $10 that you have wanted to watch. You buy it. Even though it was only $10 this time, the purchases add up.
But why do we impulse buy? For some, shopping is an addiction. They love to go out, probably tell themselves they are just going to window shop, but then they see something they just can’t live without. For others, it’s pressure. There is a limited time offer, the item is on sale, you will get a bunch of extras, but only if you buy right now. This doesn’t just happen with infomercials; you get sale ads every week that do the same thing. And sometimes we shop out of false need. It is ingrained in your head that you made need that item now or in the future, so you pull out the credit card and snatch it now. We all have a shopping trigger.
Once you figure out what your trigger is, you have to learn how to control it. Here are some steps on how to stop impulse buying for good:
Also on Nerd Wage …
Unsubscribe, unsubscribe, unsubscribe
When you make a purchase online, you often get subscribed to the retailers mailing list. Once you get on their list, you get all the sales. Some retailers will send you multiple emails a day to tell you about specials they are having. They send constant emails to trigger urgency. You will click on the email to read it, and then you will see the “once-in-a-lifetime sale” they are having. Once you know about the sale, you are more likely to make a purchase. The easiest way to combat this is to click the unsubscribe button at the bottom of the email. If you don’t know about the sale, you are less likely to purchase unnecessary products.
Don’t window shop
If you are bored, find something more constructive to do. Going to the mall and walking around isn’t a good idea when you are trying to cut back on your spending. Window shopping is one of the biggest triggers for impulse spending, especially when you are shopping out of boredom. Instead of walking around the mall, take a walk around a park or your neighborhood. Try to find some activities and hobbies that will help fill your down time. Doing these things will keep you out of the spending rut.
Create a shopping timeline
You can’t avoid shopping all the time. You need things like clothes and home goods, and you will likely see items you want. For big wants or needs, consider putting them on a calendar before making the purchase. Waiting a few months to make the purchase will give you enough time to determine if you really want the item. You will probably realize you don’t want it as much as you thought you did after the time passes and you will cross it off your list. If you end up wanting the item, after the time has passed, try to buy it when it is on sale.
Create a spending budget
If you read my posts, you know that I talk about the importance of creating a budget a lot. Creating a budget and spending plan will limit your financial resources. Having a monthly budget will give you a better perspective on what you are spending every month and how much wiggle room you have. Your main focus will be paying your monthly bills, adding money to your emergency fund, and paying off your debt. This will limit the amount of cash you have left to spend. Once your debts are paid off and your savings account is booming, you will have more wiggle room for purchases.
If your budget allows, set aside some money for fun stuff. You can use this for purchases or nights out. If you get tempted to spend more, cut back on the amount of fun money allocated.
Make a shopping list
Going out shopping and worried you might end spending too much? Make a list and stick to it. Purchase what you need and don’t talk yourself into purchases anything else, unless it is a really good deal. Sometimes grocery stores will have good deals, but check the expiration date before you purchase. If you will use the product before it expires, then consider getting it. Just don’t go overboard on the deals.
Review your financial goals
Write down your financial goals and review them when you feel the need to splurge. There is something about seeing your goals in writing that will keep you on track. Reviewing them and updating them will also show your progress and motivate you to stay on the path to financial freedom.
Pick your partners
Sometimes shopping with friends and family is the best medicine for a bad day, but you should pick those partners wisely. There is a saying that you are most like the five people you spend the most time with. So if you spend the most time with shopaholics, you will likely be one. When you are working on your financial freedom, consider more friends that are driven by their finances or letting by letting your current friends know your plans. Doing these things will help you when you’re going out or shopping in a group.
What tips do you have to stop impulse buying?