If you’re wasting money on things you don’t really want or need, or wondering where all your wages went this week, you may be falling fowl of impulse purchases. They’re tricky beasts that leave your home cluttered, your wallet empty, and your brain going into full-on buyer’s remorse mode. To take control of your spending, save money, and stop you wondering why on earth you bought yet another novelty item, you’ll find 12 helpful hints below to curb your impulsive buys once and for all.
Whether you’re on a tight budget or just looking to take a little more control of your finances, the below tips have got you covered… without having to go to the extremes of cutting up your credit cards!
Keep in mind that advertisers, marketers, and store layouts are all working in cahoots to get you to part with your hard-earned cash. Here’s how you can stick it to the man and tell him to shove his impulse purchases where the sun don’t shine.
13 Ways to Resist Impulse Purchases
1. Use cash
It’s too easy to spend more than you should when your plastic friend is paying. But handing over cold hard cash? That’s a killer, so be sure it’s easy for you to physically see how much each purchase is actually costing you.
Also, only bring as much as you need ‘cause hey, you can’t spend it if you don’t have it, right?
A budget is a great way to “assign” your money so you can stop over-spending. If you need help writing out a basic one that’s also accurate and effective, check out the below post.
2. Make a list
If you know what you need, you’re less likely to get side-tracked. Indecision and uncertainty can lead to impulse purchases, so be sure you know exactly what you want and exactly where to get it. Then get the hell out.
3. Avoid the scene of the crime
If possible, stay away from stores (or certain aisles within stores) where you know your temptation will be tested. If you can’t help sneaking some sugary snacks into your basket each time you go grocery shopping, then skip the confectionary aisle completely. Limit your exposure to impulse purchases by keeping as far away from them as possible.
4. Satisfy your craving before you go
If sugary treats are your impulse purchase of choice, satisfy your sweet tooth before you go shopping. If nail polish is your poison, paint your nails your prettiest shade beforehand. If, like me, you’re a sucker for stationery, break out that new notebook and use your favourite set of pens to doodle or journal. Get your fill before your feet hit the shops and you won’t feel like you’re missing out.
5. Stay calm
If you’re feeling rushed or stressed, or if you’ve got kids pulling out of your arms and legs, you’re much more likely to reach for that “quick fix” item to make yourself feel better. Instead, whenever possible, allow yourself time to make conscious decisions based on sound judgement. Go when the kids are at school, when there’s the least amount of people there, and when you’re not in a rush to be elsewhere afterwards. A calm, clear state of mind means better decisions for yourself and your budget.
6. Wait or walk away
Put time and distance between you and the item, thus giving you space to make a conscious spending decision. Tell yourself you can pick it up next time you’re at the store if you still really want it.
A good tip here is to challenge yourself to find it cheaper elsewhere. That switches your brain out of buying mode and into bargain-hunting mode. More often than not (because the “impulse” part of the purchase will have been diffused), you won’t actually bother. But even if you do, at least you’ll have saved yourself some money in the process.
Also, I can’t vouch for it personally, but I’ve heard that the ‘Amazon Contemplate’ Chrome extension is very effective. It forces you to wait about 30 seconds before making an Amazon purchase, leaving you just enough time to question whether you really need the item.
Here's a screenshot:
7. Carry it with you
Very often, the time between spotting the item and completing the transaction is mere seconds. That doesn’t give you enough time to give the purchase proper consideration. Instead, for each thing you think you want to buy that wasn’t a planned purchase, have a rule that you’ll first walk around with it for a certain amount of time (maybe 1-10 minutes) before checking out. You’ll find in a lot of cases that the “high” has completely left you before you go to pay.
8. Give yourself a spending cap
Trying to completely deprive yourself will likely lead to a spending splurge, so allow room in your budget for the occasional treat. All you have to do is cap it at a certain level so it doesn’t get out of hand. For example, you could make it a personal rule that you won’t make any unplanned purchases that cost over a certain amount, or limit yourself to a certain spend per week.
9. Don’t save your credit card information
For online purchases, when asked if you’d like to save your payment details, don’t. And turn off one-click options. It may make things slightly less convenient for you, but if those few seconds are what it takes to make you re-think a questionable purchase, it’s worth it.
10. Think of the cost in terms of time
Work out how much you earn for an hour’s work (for some of you, this will be easy because your wage packet will tell you; for others you’ll have to calculate what you believe your time is worth on an hourly basis). Now look at how much time you’d have to spend working to earn enough money to pay for your impulse purchases. Something may seem inexpensive, but if you tot up how many hours of your working day you have to exchange for it, it may not seem like such a great deal after all.
11. Focus on the sacrifice
No, not what you’re missing out on if you don’t purchase the item, but what you’re giving up if you do. For every small (or large) sum you spend on an impulse purchase, you’re taking it away from something you really want, like a holiday, or a new laptop. If you’re saving up for something nice for yourself, then impulsive spending is only pushing that goal further out of reach. Is it really worth it? Are you really going to delay your big goals in favour of a quick hit?
12. Remind yourself of past regrets
Notice the things you normally regret buying, and then keep that in mind when you’re out shopping again. It’s easier to resist another lipstick when you think of all the other ones sitting unused at home, or to turn down another lotion when you loathe the space they take up in your bathroom cupboard.
In the end, resisting impulse purchases is often a simple matter of waiting until the initial wave of longing washes over you. Focus on ways to dull the initial “sparkle” and you’ll soon find it easier than ever to say no. Not only will you save a lot of money, but your home will be less cluttered too. Before you know it, you’ll have boosted your bank balance (as well as your confidence) and you’ll be able to splash out on those special occasions.
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