We’ve probably all done it. The thought process may go something like this… “Oh look, this is just what I needed!” Or, “What a great sale!!” Then we may even dig the hole deeper with “I know it’s not on my list, I probably should wait… but it’s here now, I’m here now… maybe it’s just meant to be!” People have many ways of justifying impulse purchases… “I’ve earned it, I need it, I deserve it, he/she would love this gift – though I know it exceeds my budget,” or even worse, “I just want it and I want it now – I don’t even care what it costs!” (Hopefully that last one doesn’t happen too often, and if it does, counseling may be necessary.) Now of course it’s not just gifts, clothing and household items that we may buy on impulse, oh no! Anything that can be purchased with money can be bought on impulse. Even big ticket items like cars and houses.
The fact is, every purchase we make can affect our finances in some way, good or bad. Learning to manage our finances better and live more frugally can be a life-long journey, but it doesn’t take long to learn that impulse purchases can turn into disasters. The problem is, many of us may do well when it comes to the bigger purchases like buying a new car or a new home, but what about those smaller everyday purchases – like a few extra sodas or magazines at the grocery store each week? It may not seem like much, but an extra soda and magazine (or whatever you pick up that you could have done without), can cost you an extra $10-$50 a week. That’s at least $120 per year, and could be as much as $600 or more. And 10 years of regular impulse buying… could cost you $6, 000.00!So, if this is an area where you or someone in your family have a problem, what can you do? Here’s a few ideas to help keep those impulses under control! ØAlways keep an ongoing list of things you need to buy on your next trip to any store. Review the list before you leave, and remember to take it with you!
- Make as few trips to the store as possible each month, and avoid the malls entirely. I do my shopping (grocery, toiletries, etc…) every 2 weeks. ALWAYS follow the list–i will detract from it, ONLY if I truly need something or forgot something!
- Give yourself a time limit for how quick to get in and out of the store, along with a personal challenge to not buy anything that’s not on your list.
- Know what your budget is for miscellaneous items each month. To help keep track of your impulse purchases…
- Keep track of your receipts in an envelope at home so you’ll know how much you’re spending as you go through the month. When you’ve spent your budgeted amount for the month – no more impulse (miscellaneous) purchases!
- AND, if you’ve successfully passed by that gorgeous new outfit (or that shiny new car that costs as much as a house should!), reward yourself for choosing a Better Life, with a luxurious bubble bath tonight… you’ve earned it!