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Tips to Curb Impulse Purchases

By DaRenda Hanson

How many times have you walked into a store to get only a few things and walked out with a basket full? Or is there a store you must avoid because you know if go in, you’ll spend too much money? You are NOT alone! I’ve gathered some tips to help you curb impulse spending. Small but persistent changes in day-to-day spending can have a big impact on your overall financial well-being. What could you better be using your money for? Paying off debt? Saving for a down-payment on a house? Saving for your kid’s college? How about saving for retirement?

Unsubscribe

Every year while I’m Christmas shopping online, I sign up for emails to get notifications of sales and coupons. But once the holiday season is over, those emails are just…annoying. By February my inbox needs a good cleaning. I use the unenroll.me app to unsubscribe from anything that is annoying or may entice me to make impulse purchases. Those store emails lead to wasted time browsing and sometimes unnecessary spending. Unsubscribe and remove the temptation.

Unfollow

If you follow boutiques or stores on Instagram or Facebook that you find yourself browsing through, unfollow them. You can always check out their pages when you’re planning on shopping, but by unfollowing them, you won’t feel the urge to browse every time they post new items. You remove the temptation to browse and spend unplanned dollars!

Savings for Shopping

Start a sinking fund for clothing that you contribute to monthly. When you do go shopping, know how much you have in that savings account, or pull the money out in cash. Hold yourself to your budget. Leave the tags on your purchases for a few days or a week. If you have buyer’s remorse after spending your money, or you overspent, return the items for a refund!

Meal Plan

One of the best tips I have for impulsive purchases at the grocery store is to do an inventory of your pantry and freezer before you go. Meal plan around items you already have. If you don’t have enough to make meals, figure out what meals you want to make, and plan your grocery list around those. Generally, I buy ingredients for 5-6 meals. We also eat leftovers at least one night a week, and there is usually at least one night a week when we do something easy like sandwiches. By meal planning and purchasing all the ingredients to make each meal, it removes the need to make multiple trips to the grocery store. The less trips you make to the grocery store, the less temptation there is for impulse purchases.

Shopping List

Sticking to the shopping list is HUGE! If you’ve written everything down that you need to meal plan and considered everything else you NEED—personal hygiene items, kids lunches, after school snacks, etc-- there shouldn’t be any reason to deviate from it. This may mean avoiding certain aisles, or not walking down an aisle unless it contains something on your list. The list also keeps you from forgetting important items and having to make that dreaded additional stop at the store later in the week.

For me, I can usually stick to the grocery list better if I leave my kids and husband at home. I’ll take into consideration their requests, but fewer unnecessary items wind up in our cart if they stay home! In all honesty, I fall in love with my husband all over again each time he says I can go to the store by myself!

Sleep on It

If you do find yourself browsing at an online retailer and you find items you like, put them in your cart, or start a wish list. Leave it for a week or so, then come back to it. Chances are, you don’t want/need the item any longer. If you believe you still need the item, assuming the purchase is within your budget, make the purchase. If you decide you don’t need it, delete it from your cart, release the urge, and be proud of yourself for having some self-control.

Use Credit Cards Wisely

Credit cards make impulse buying easy. You shouldn’t be spending money you don’t have, so if you don’t have the cash to pay for something, you shouldn’t buy it. Now, my view on credit cards isn’t cut and dry. There is a good time to use credit cards. If you have money in savings that is earmarked for a purchase you are going to make, you can use a credit card to make the purchase, then pay the credit card off by transferring the money from savings. But, if you can’t be trusted to use credit cards wisely, if you find yourself making poor decisions, or if you aren’t being able to pay the balance off weekly, you should not use credit cards.

Understand What’s Behind Your Purchases

Why do you make the impulse purchases? Sometimes people get a high from new purchases--they love to have new things. Sometimes they are attracted to having newly released items, or they have FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). Understand what it is you get from making purchases. A temporary euphoria, the feeling of “fitting in,” or the envy of having the latest and greatest gadget.

A good habit is to stay out of stores unless you absolutely need buy something. Avoid going to stores to waste time, or just to browse. If you go into a store, go with a list and a mission.

Remind Yourself of Your Goals

Hopefully you have some ultimate goals for your money. There is a slim possibility that any of us are going to get rich from the lottery, so it’s up to us to plan for our future. Remind yourself of your ultimate money goals and how random nickel-and-diming expenses can derail your dreams.

My challenge to you is to go through your bank account and credit card purchases for the past month. Classify all the expenses as “necessities” or “not necessity.” How many of the unnecessary expenses were impulse buys? What is the total of those expenses? What better ways could you have spent that money?Add paragraph text here.

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