When was the last time you bought something you didn’t plan to purchase? If you’re like most Americans it probably wasn’t that long ago. Candy bars at the gas station, a sweater at the mall and the new gadget everyone is talking about top the list of unplanned purchases for a lot of people.
Mental math and reasoning acrobatics usually accompany these purchases with excuses like you deserve it, you work hard, or you can get credit card points and pay it off later.
But these impulse buys can add up quickly regardless of your budget or your savings goals. Unfortunately, it can be hard to stop these leaks. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Curb Impulse Shopping – Use the 30 Day Rule to slow down your impulse buys. Do you really need new curtains for your bedroom or do you just want them today? Will you still want those curtains in a month? Make a list of all those things you desire – from the $30 curtains to the $400 gaming system and give it a month. If you still want the item and have the money, go for it! A lot of times you will find that you either will change your mind or forget all about it!
Remove Temptation – It is really easy to buy things online when your payment information is stored in your account. With a few mindless clicks you can drop items in your basket and easily have them shipped to your door. If you have to retrieve your credit card and type the information each time you want to buy, you will be more conscious of your actions.
Write a List (and stick to it) – Going shopping without a list is a dangerous game when you are trying to curb impulse buys. Whether it’s for groceries, back to school clothes or a home remodeling project, a list will give you purpose and will help you acquire the things you really want. With a list, you are on a mission to find what you need. Without it, odds are better that you will pick up every sale item in your path and go home without whatever you went for in the first place.
Research All Purchases – You need a printer for your home but you don’t know what kind. Inkjet or laser? Will you be printing pictures or just documents? You think you’ll just wing it and buy whatever looks good in the store. After a few uses you realize the quality isn’t what you were hoping for and the ink is extremely expensive. Avoid situations like this by doing a little research before you buy. Talk to people you trust, read consumer reviews online and read product information so that you can make an informed decision. You may discover that the new phone you wanted has a lot of bugs and you are better off with what you have. And it’s better to buy the right thing once than to be dissatisfied with the wrong buy.
Shop Around – While you’re researching, shop around for a good price. Newspaper circulars, online ads and online shopping can help you determine who has the best price. Depending on the purchase, this could save you a few dollars or a several hundred dollars!