The thing you do when you’re having a bad day or when you’re just plain bored and need to add a dash of excitement to your life. You tell yourself that you deserve this little treat and make a promise that for the rest of the month you’ll curb your spending.
A few days later when you get the delivery in your hands, you feel delighted. You try on the dress, and you can already picture wearing it for your next brunch party.
As the month goes by, you conveniently forget about this expensive purchase and your expenses start stacking up. By the time the month-end rolls by, you’re close to being broke and regret not being able to save money for your actual goals. You recall the impulse purchase you made early on in the month and you kick yourself for making that rash decision.
Yup, we’ve all been there. Some of us, probably more frequently then we would like to admit. But worry not! There are some smart ways to avoid making those impulse purchases and instead focus your efforts on achieving your financial milestones.
1. Start by Tracking Your Expenses and Identify Patterns of Your Impulsive Shopping
The first step is to make a note of your monthly expenses and identify your impulsive shopping patterns. Here are 3 key questions that can help guide you -
Is there a particular product category you tend to splurge on?
Is there a specific emotional trigger that propels you to shop impulsively?
How frequently do you purchase something without thinking it through? It could be big or small.
2. Keep Your Larger Financial Goal in Mind
The main challenge with impulsive shopping is that it’s unplanned and done without much thought. So with that impulse decision, you may not have the money to invest or save towards your real goals - like for travelling, or starting a hobby or buying a bike. Therefore, it’s crucial to keep your larger financial goal at the forefront so that your actions can follow.
3. Have a Mental Differentiator Between Your Needs and Wants
Often with social media, the difference between needs and wants is so easily blurred.
You scroll, discover new brands, and you suddenly feel like you can’t do without those products in your life! Trust me, there are things you probably want but certainly, don’t need with your current lifestyle. In the digital age, temptations are everywhere, and therefore have a clear understanding of where to draw the line.
4. Apply the 30-Day Rule
Now, this rule may sound like a stretch, but you can always customise it based on a timeline that is suitable for you and how expensive the product is. When you are taking a stroll in the mall and you’re about to make an impulsive shopping decision try this - give yourself a 30 day time period. If you’re still thinking about that product and you feel like it could add value to your life, then start saving up for it and eventually it’ll be yours. The need for instant gratification is what often leads you off track. So when you apply this rule it gives you the opportunity to step back, look at the bigger picture and avoid making any hasty decisions.
5. Beware of Joining Too Many Email Lists
When you are an impulse shopper and you see a subject line of an email from your favourite brand that says - 30% off EVERYTHING!, it’s going to be extremely hard for you to resist. It’s that FOMO (fear of missing out) that leads us to justify an impulse purchase based on the 30% or 50% we’ve saved, rather than looking at it for what it is: an unbudgeted-for impulse buy.
So the smart thing to do is unsubscribe from those dozen emails and save yourself from any temptation at all.
6. Give Yourself a Splurge Budget
If you can afford to, give yourself a small splurge budget from time to time. This will allow you to treat yourself without having to feel guilty about it and also helps you stay within your financial means.
So those are our 6 tips on how to avoid making impulse purchases. Remember, that celebrating your successes with a nice treat is completely fine - just make sure you plan it out, create a budget for it without over-stretching your spending capacity, and keep an eye out on your larger financial goals.