Personal Finance

How to Manage Your Impulse Buys

We’ve all been there before. You know, the times when we go out shopping for one specific item but end up leaving the store with five items that we clearly don’t need but couldn’t pass up because the deals were oh so good.

Impulse buying is a spending habit that affects even the most frugal shoppers. Sometimes when you’re at the store, good advertising does what it does best: it influences you to buy the item!

Now I’ll be honest, if you impulse buy an item simply because you want it, then more power to you. You’re allowed to buy whatever you want; it’s your money, spend it how you wish! However, please know that when people go shopping and regularly impulse-buy items they don’t need, this is a huge risk to your financial health.

Those small, meaningless impulse buys have a funny way of compounding to an extraordinary dollar amount at the end of the month. Simply put, if you don’t manage your impulse buying behaviors, one day you may run out of money, but have a house full of too-good-to-pass-up-but-never-really-used impulse-buy items! (Gasp.)

Fortunately, not all is doom and gloom. Read on to learn tips that will help you manage your impulse-buys. The key word here is manage – yes, we acknowledge that people will always buy items on impulse – we’re human after all!

Track Your Spending Habits

Do you have a budget? If not it’s time to get to work and learn where your money truly goes. Dust off your pen & pad and begin to physically write down every purchase you make for a month.

Make sure you record everything – including those quick trips to grab coffee and the candy bars that you buy at a gas station.

The goal here is to simply become aware of where your money goes. Trust me, it’s easy to say, “My money goes to bills, loans, and groceries. I have no money to buy what I want!”

After you get into the practice of recording where your money truly goes, you may find yourself shocked that your $2.00 daily coffee habit is costing you over $60.00 a month; or you spent 70 dollars on a new bed set when you own three bed sets already!

This practice forces you to build your awareness around your spending habits. It’s only when people are aware of what they are doing can they begin to accept the outcomes of their decisions and correct course where needed. Record what you spend your money on so you can learn exactly how much money you spend (waste) on items you don’t need.

Window Shop Without Money

If you held up your end of the bargain and truly wrote down what you spend your money on, I’m guessing that you may have been surprised to learn how much money your impulse-buys are costing you! This is a good thing – you need that shock to fuel your drive to become better with your money. Let’s start talking about strategies to help you fight impulse buying.

I remember growing up and always wanting to have new toys. I knew that money was tight, but to my dad’s dismay, my mom was a fan of window shopping and holiday shopping. I knew even as a young boy that window-shopping is a code word for “shopping.” Long story short, let’s just say I noticed every toy in the window that was on sale…

Window-shopping is a legal drug fix. Go to any mall and notice the people shopping; focus in on how they look ecstatic to be out in the mall and be around the hot, new, exciting items. Stores managers know this and they lure customers into their store on the promise of good deals and vast savings; impulse buying normally ensues.

To make sure that window-shopping doesn’t turn into full-fledged shopping, elect to go window-shopping without your wallet. Trust me, it’s pretty darn hard to buy an item when you don’t have currency. This simple tip will quite literally prevent you from impulse buying items.

Make a List and Check it Twice

I want you to become Santa Clauses and I don’t care if you’re not a jolly, red nosed, bearded man that lives in the North Pole. (Sure, there can only be one Santa Claus. But we can learn from his winning habits!)

When you make a shopping list, be sure to check it twice. Your goal is to confirm that every item on the list is an item you need. For example, you could have shampoo on your shopping list, but after a simple bathroom inspection, you might confirm that you in fact, already have shampoo.

It’s so easy to write down an item on your shopping list without seeing if you truly need it. When you are able to primarily only shop for needs, you will build financial health and consequently keep more money in your bank account.

Honor Your Shopping List

This step is everything! Since you’ve gone through the trouble of making a shopping list, don’t you think it’s a good idea to only buy the items on the list?

Yes, I am aware that many stores have discount shopping days, which can be useful; but do not allow yourself to buy an item that you don’t need!

Honoring your shopping list and, for that matter, managing impulse buying can be accomplished by one task: force yourself to become disciplined.

Self-discipline is perhaps the single greatest trait that every successful person has. Self-discipline allows you to stay on the straight and narrow and will allow you to control your spending habits. The more you discipline yourself, the easier it becomes.

Don’t let stereotypes of being self-disciplined influence you to think that self-disciplined people are boring. On the contrary, when you become self-disciplined with your spending habits, one day you’ll wake up with more money in your bank account then you’re accustomed to. This is a wonderful feeling, my friends!

When you learn to become disciplined with your spending habits, you will learn how to manage impulse buying. Period.

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