One of the biggest spending dangers is impulse buying. Impulse buying is purchasing without any premeditation or plan to buy an item. Impulse buys are purchased on a whim, with little to no thought about the necessity of the purchase. Typically impulse buys come from a feeling within you that says you deserve to buy this item, because you work hard. You haven’t bought anything in awhile so why not. Impulse buys make you feel like you’re your own boss, you are in power, and the experience of buying on impulse feels invigorating. These sensations start to fade a day later when buyers remorse sets in and you are forced to face your own reality. The worst feeling occurs after you buy on credit cards and your payment is now due. When it comes to financial responsibility impulse buying is one of my weaker points.
I am the type of person who loves to experience life. I love to have a good time, love to travel, and try anything new. If friends invite me to hangout I usually won’t say no. If another couple wants to go out to dinner, I don’t let money stand in the way because I don’t want to miss out on a fun night with friends. Although I may prefer to eat at home, my impulse tells me to go out with friends. When I am out shopping with my wife and she tries something really cute on, my impulse says, ” buy it, it looks cute on you.” Prior to marriage I bought TV’s, video games, clothes, hiking and camping gear, and other impulse items. Typically my justification for these purchases was that they were quality products that would last me along time. Each of these purchases were made without considering the financial consequences of my spending. This pattern of spending got me into a few thousand dollars in debt. I thought I was in control of my money, but these habits controlled where my money went. I was unable to save money because my money went to credit card payments. My credit cards had control of my money.
I have tried to change these bad impulse buying habits in the last couple of years and I can say that credit card companies no longer control my money, but I have had to put some restrictions on my spending habits. I want to share a few rules I use to help prevent impulse buying.
1. Think before you buy: this might seem like common sense, but that’s the problem with impulse buying, it’s based on feeling and not fully thought through.
2. Allow 48 hours: obviously not with every purchase, but set an amount for yourself. Any purchase over $25 or over $50 needs 48 hours to think through the purchase. By allowing 48 hours you grant yourself the opportunity to rationally think about the purchase, see if your budget allows for it, and if the item is really something you need to buy, you can go back a few days later. Allowing 48 hours also gives you time to shop around on the internet for a good better deal than the store you originally shopped.
3. Determine the value of your purchase: Is this item something that you will benefit from? Is it something that you really need? Or is there no value in this item at all? This will allow you to determine whether or not the desire to buy this item is an impulse or a legitimate need.
4. Always know you can walk away: Whether it is a big car purchase, or big electronic item that involves a sales person, you must always know that you can walk away. Sales people are trained to encourage you to buy on impulse, and you must stay in control of your money. Seek the best deal, but do not ever feel like you have to buy in that moment. Even if it is a great deal, allow for 48 hours to think it through. Again this will allow you to shop around to determine if it is a great deal, and compare other prices out there.
These are helpful tips that have helped me become less of an impulse buyer. Now what about you? Do you struggle with impulse buying or are their other financial areas of weakness that you have? Let me know in the comments area below.
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