It’s happened to all of us at some point or another. We see an item that we think will make us happy, so we buy it without a second thought. It’s instant gratification at its finest.
We fool ourselves into thinking we deserve it, that a small purchase won’t hurt our bank or our budget, and it’s downhill from there.
But impulse purchases can be a very slippery slope if not controlled. Here are a few ways you can curb impulse buys:
You should always make a list of the things you need, and stick to it. And no, shopping with a mental list does not count.
It doesn’t matter where you’re going — whether you’re buying groceries, picking up socks and underwear, or shopping for a toy for your nephew’s birthday party. Regardless of the type of shopping trip you’re about to embark upon, take inventory of what you need before you go and write down precisely what you intend to buy. While you’re at the store, ONLY buy the items on that list
If you see something at the store that you want to buy, write it down on a “next shopping trip” list. Go home, and force yourself to return to the store — with a new list — in order to buy that item. This will prevent you from making impulse purchases.
By sticking to a list, you’re committing yourself to only buying what you planned to get.
Are there particular stores you can’t go into without buying something? Or a website where you always want to click “buy”?
Avoid these destinations, at all costs.
It might mean avoiding certain sections of stores you’re always tempted by. You might also need to stay away from malls or shopping centres, or setting up a website blocker so you can’t access your favorite sites.
Pretend like you’re putting blinders on whenever you enter a department store. Head straight to the section you need to shop in, and don’t allow yourself to go down any other aisle.
In short: remove yourself from the source of temptation. You wouldn’t visit a bakery everyday if you’re trying to lose weight, so why visit the stores that you love if you’re trying to curb your spending? Avoiding temptation will give you the best chance of achieving your financial goals.
Having a financial goal in mind always helps to set priorities when you’re shopping. Whether you’re saving for something special or trying to pay down debt, you’ll have something to weigh a purchase against.
If you’re looking at a brand new pair of shoes, ask yourself, “Would I rather buy these shoes, or would I rather put the money toward my goal?” This forces you to make a conscious decision to spend. Speaking of which…
Anytime you’re looking to buy something new, make sure it’s truly worth it.
Do you have something similar already that can do the job? Are you buying an item just because someone else has it? Will the purchase make you happy several months down the road?
You want to make sure that you’re only spending on things that will add value to your life. If you already have 20 pairs of shoes, why do you need one more? Practice mindful spending!
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