It’s not your fault that you’re an impulse spender. The economy encourages you to be. What do you think all that candy and those magazines are doing at the checkout stand? It’s not convenience for you. It’s a tactic created in hopes that you’ll make a last second purchase on your way out. And sometimes you do. Here are some tips for cutting down on impulse spending, whether it’s in-store or online shopping that you tend to slip up.
We can’t use cash for everything since we make a lot of purchases online. But if you’re making an in-person shopping trip, like going to the grocery store, using cash can be a great way to stay on budget. When we’re using cash we can set an actual limit that might not be found on a credit card. At the same time, we tend to have more of an awareness of how much we’re spending simply because we see the cash leaving our hands.
Make a List
You might already be making shopping lists to help you keep track and remember what you need to buy. Make it a rule that you have to stick with the list. Occasionally you’ll remember something that you really need and in that case, it makes sense to throw it into the cart. But know the difference between needs and wants so that you can avoid coming home with tons of stuff you don’t actually need.
Sleep on It
Impulse spending happens in the moment. But most items that we actually need will still be available tomorrow or next week if we don’t buy them today. When you see something that you really want make a deal with yourself to sleep on it. Many times you’ll realize that the initial excitement wears off a bit or you remember that you already have a similar pair of jeans in your closet. If you can’t stop thinking about something after a few days then at that point consider if it’s worth treating yourself.
Compare Costs With Your Real Wage
You probably know how much money you make in an hour. Don’t forget that number when it comes time to shop. Some smoothies cost nearly minimum wage, and someone living off that salary probably wouldn’t be able to justify working for an hour to buy one. But when something is a need or a truly exciting want, then you’ll be happy to trade your time in work to buy what you want.
Remember Your Goals
If you have long-term saving goals, refer to those when you get the urge to shop. Often our impulse to buy is simply a pleasure seeking response. Remind yourself that you’re saving up for a vacation or a special purchase that will feel way more exciting that giving into this sale today will. It can take some time to retrain yourself if you’ve been an impulse shopper all your life. But it’s definitely possible with some awareness and dedication to change.