How to Squash Spring Impulse Spending
We've all had those "Why did I buy this?" moments, where we're left scratching our head over a silly purchase that seemed like a good idea at the time.
Some of us just have more of these moments than others. My weakness, for instance, is online bargain shopping. When I see a pair of pumps that retailed for $200 on sale for $39, it's like a siren's song beckoning me to open my wallet -- even if it's something I don't really need or covet. I have to actively talk myself out of the purchase.
So with a new season and a fresh round of advertisements trying to convince us that we need a new spring wardrobe, fresh décor or the latest MP3 music releases, it's a good time to review strategies for short-circuiting these impulse buys.
One of the best ways to head off those spur-of-the-moment purchases is to set up a time rule, as Meg Favreau of Wisebread mentions in this post. Once you see something you want, make yourself wait before you purchase it, whether it's a couple of hours or as long as 30 days. She also suggests:
- Don't shop when you're upset or with a buddy who is a shopping enabler.
- Consider making a list of things you really want and need so you feel more confident buying when you see exactly the right thing.
- Give yourself a small splurge budget each month so you don't feel deprived and make bigger impulse purchases.
If you have trouble discerning a smart purchase from a dumb one, Andrea Whitmer of So Over Debt wrote a guest post on MSN Money recently about setting up a decision tree for spending with questions like these:
- Do I already own something that will meet the same need?
- Will it solve or prevent a real problem?
- Can I afford this item without going into debt?
- Will someone be angry if I buy this? Will I have to hide it or hide the receipt?
Whitmer says she used to keep a printout of this decision tree in her wallet so she could refer to it when she was tempted to buy.
It's also a good idea to know your spending personality so you are better prepared to deal with your triggers. Since I am so motivated by bargains, I try my best (I don't always succeed) not to shop the sales ahead of time and just buy when the need actually arises. It may cost me more each time, but generally I wind up making far fewer purchases.
I have also instituted a new rule that says I must try something on before I buy it. Given my nonstop schedule and two young kids, that has slowed down my clothing purchases significantly.
For those who want to shame themselves into spending less, the site Spendster.org, a community for over-spenders, allows you to post videos about your wasteful purchases and calculate how much you could have made on that money if you had not blown it on something foolish.
And since it's always a good idea to replace a bad habit with a good one, why not try a little impulse saving? The next time you're tempted to head into the mall, or blow some money on a new game or gadget, why not send that cash to a savings account set up for something you really want?
A new site, ImpulseSave (and soon-to-be-released app), allows you to securely link your checking account to a dedicated savings account and even text money over when you're feeling spendy.
SecondAct asks: What are your best tips for squelching spending?
Read more: 8 Tips For (Really) Frugal Living
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