Have you ever bought something you don’t need on a whim? If so, you’ve experienced impulse spending.
Some stores (I’m looking at you, Target ;)) are great at getting us to buy things on an impulse that we don’t really need. Pretty things to decorate our homes, makeup items to make us more “popular,” etc, etc. All those marketing messages can really get to us after a while and end up with people spending money they don’t have on things they don’t need.
As you can imagine, impulse spending can wreak havoc on your budget if you’ve finally created a budget and are trying to faithfully stick with it. A few years ago, I found myself spending way too much on random things I bought online (or sometimes in stores) and spending money I should have been saving. So, since then I’ve come up with a few rules that now stop impulse spending before it starts.
3 Rules to Stop Impulse Spending
1. Use the 30 day rule.
If you see something online or in a store that you just HAVE TO HAVE, stick it on a wishlist (bookmark the item, take a photo, add it to your Amazon wishlist, etc) and then wait a month before coming back to it. Thirty days later, you can look at your potential impulse purchase more wisely and see if it’s something that you still really want. I’ve found that 9 times out of 10, after 30 days I no longer want the item and that saves me a whole bunch of money in the long run.
2. Use the old “make do or mend” rule.
Make do or mend was coined during World War II to encourage people to repair or repurpose their clothing when most of the clothing was rationed at the time because of the war. A few months ago I thought about getting a new pair of (expensive) ballet flats and after putting it on my wish list for a couple months, I finally decided to just stretch out the potential purchase as long as possible. So instead, I used a little fabric glue to repair my current pair of flats and they’ll probably hold up for another year or two before I finally have to break down and buy a new pair. It might sound silly, but depending on what brand I purchase, that could be $50-100 that I don’t have to spend for another year or two. The more years of life you can get out of your possessions, the better.
3. Ask yourself, “Why am I really buying this?”
This question gets a little psychological. 😃 Sometimes we buy things not because we actually need them, but because we think they’ll make us look better or smarter or cooler or more popular or whatever. So dig deep on this one. Do you actually need what you’re about to buy, or are you buying it for some other reason or hoping it will improve your life in a way that a set of placemats just can’t? 😃
If you find yourself about to buy something you might not need or that might be a waste of money, keep these rules in mind to try to stop impulse spending before it becomes a problem for your budget. Good luck!
Want more? Here are my favorite books on budgeting and saving money:
- The Beginner’s Guide to Budgeting
- 31 Days to Radically Reduce Your Expenses
- The Total Money Makeover
- The Money Saving Mom’s Budget
If you’d like more tips on budgeting and saving money, check out our ebook Budget Transformation.