We’ve all done it, bought something that we didn’t really need in a moment of weakness. While it may have been a small purchase, like a candy bar at the checkout counter, repeated impulse buys will add up. When I turned 18 I got my first credit card to start building my credit. Unfortunately I got carried away and started buying things that I did not really need in the heat of the moment. By the time I had turned 19 I realized that the amount of debt that I had accrued even though it was not an obnoxious amount was, for lack of a better word, stupid. Most of the stuff that I had purchased was either gone or I had never even used or worn it and now I owed this money that I didn’t really want to pay back. I felt like an idiot for not being more careful about what I bought. At that moment I vowed that I would never be the person who drowns in debt because I just had to have it.
Thankfully, for me it was easy to snap myself back to reality but it may not be so easy for others. The reason behind the impulse may come from various sources. For instance, the pressure of wanting to keep up with peers or using shopping to help you feel better are just a couple reasons that might lead to a thoughtless purchase. Advertisers and stores are also very good at marketing a product or presenting an item in such a positive light that you just can’t resist. Truthfully in most cases an impulse buy will not hurt your pocket too badly. On the other hand if you consistently repeat this behavior it could negatively impact your finances and your future.
Should You Really Get That?
Before you take that walk of shame to the register to buy something that you know you probably don’t need, here are 4 things to think about/ask yourself to avoid buyer’s remorse.
Do You Already Have Something That Is Similar?
Be honest with yourself about that pair of black pumps. Yes I know black pumps are always a good item to have in your closet but if you already have three pairs then you probably don’t need a fourth.
Will This Item Require You To Make Additional Purchases?
Think about it and be honest with yourself. If you have to buy extra attachments in order to use a new device or a whole new outfit to wear with a new pair of shoes then you should probably just pass on it. Even if it’s on sale you are spending more money in the long run if you cannot use the item as is.
If The Item Is On Sale Would You Still Want It At Full Price?
This is not hard. If the answer is no then you have your answer. Move on and thank yourself later.
How Do You Feel About Past Purchases?
Do you consistently regret the majority of your purchases? If so, then it’s time to sit down and really examine your spending habits. It may even be a good idea to think about why you are an impulsive shopper. Get to the root of this behavior and don’t be ashamed to ask for help.
Think Ahead and Save Some Money
A great way to jumpstart your efforts to become a smarter shopper is to come up with an easy plan to save. Think about the year ahead, are there any events that you would like to attend? Perhaps you want to cross some things off your bucket list. Find out how much they cost and start saving!
Create A Plan
After you’ve thought about what you’re saving for use visual cues to keep you motivated. Set up another savings account and name it what you are saving for, for example, if you are saving to go to Bali title it “Trip to Bali”. It also helps to put up a picture of what you are saving for in a spot that you will see it every day.
Turn Saving Money Into A Game
Pay yourself when you complete a chore like the laundry or a workout session. Get an adult version of a piggy bank. Decorate a box or a jar and place it somewhere in your home that will easily remind you to use it. Make sure it’s not easy to access the money until you are ready to refill it. Another tip is to actually save the money you save on receipts. Whatever the amount is on the bottom of your receipt, move that amount from your checking to your savings.