Impulse spending typically occurs when you’re emotionally motivated, sometimes unknowingly, to make an unplanned purchase. Just like other habits, it can be hard to break. Instead of trying to go cold turkey, there are ways to gradually curb your impulse purchases. Here are 8 things you can do today to reduce your odds of impulse spending.
1. Using Cash For Discretionary Spending
I use my PerkStreet debit card to earn cash back for making purchases and paying bills. But for daily drinks, snacks and other discretionary spending, sometimes it makes more sense to use cash instead. It’s like giving yourself an allowance: You can’t get that extra candy bar or pack of gum if you don’t have enough cash!
2. Don’t Make Sub-Par Purchases
How many times do we go into the mall and leave with things we don’t need? If you’re about to buy something, stop and ask yourself, “Is this fabulous?” If you can’t consider it fabulous, then you’re probably settling for something sub-par you might not even need in the first place.
3. Sell Something Before You Buy Something
To help curb my impulse spending, I make myself live by an in-and-out rule. If something comes in, something else must go out. Selling or donating an item before making another purchase does 3 things:
- Evaluates how much you really want it
- Helps raise money to offset the purchase
- Keeps your home organized and clutter free
4. Delay Gratification
The key to saving money is delaying gratification. If you’re thinking of making a purchase, tell yourself (or your spouse) to wait 30 days. Once the next billing cycle rolls around, if you still remember what it was you were going to buy, it’s probably something you need. When I live by this rule, I forget about 90% of my impulse purchases.
5. Avoid Other Impulse-Spenders
If you have a problem with overspending, you don’t want to be around people that have the same problem. Limit the amount of time you spend with other impulse spenders and surround yourself with frugal friends instead.
6. Don’t Sign Up For Mailing Lists
Our daily lives are filled with convincing tactics used to make us buy on impulse. We are bombarded with clever marketing and advertising from bus stops to TV commercials. You can help yourself avoid some of these by unsubscribing from all email and magazine lists you currently receiver. It’s easier to avoid temptation completely than resist it.
7. Use a Smaller Basket at the Grocery Store
At my grocery store they offer 3 different shopping cart sizes, a large “family” sized cart, a normal sized cart, and a small basket. Whether I consciously think about it or not, anytime I pick the larger cart I go over my grocery budget for the week. A bigger bag or shopping cart fuels impulse spending, so opt for the smaller one instead.
8. Do Research Before You Shop
It’s okay to give yourself permission to buy things, but only if you do some good research first. A little comparison-shopping will help you find the best deals and prices available. Plus, the more information you have, the more informed decisions you’ll make.
We all have different areas of impulse spending we struggle with, and it’s the main reason we don’t reach our goals or save enough money for the future. Make a promise to yourself today to start breaking these bad habits and get your spending under control.
What are some things you do to avoid impulse spending? What would you add to the list? Leave a tip or two in our comments section below!
Carrie Smith is a PerkStreet Customer Columnist who has worked as a freelance Certified Bookkeeper for nine years and as a Tax Specialist for four. She specializes in small business and oil and gas accounting. She has written several finance and accounting articles at Hubpages.com, and also writes regularly on her own blog CarefulCents. Follow her on Twitter @applecsmith.