Trying to save money to reach a financial goal is an excellent way to improve your life in general. As you learn the power of your own finances, you can use the knowledge to build a better future.
One of the most common reasons people have debt, though, isn’t because they have too many nice things. It’s actually due to a phenomenon called “impulse buying.”
As the term implies, impulse buying refers to spending money without planning to do so ahead of time.
Maybe you’re an emotional spender and shopping makes you feel better when you have the blues. Or you’re innocently standing in line at the grocery store and you just have to buy that candy bar that’s calling your name.
Whenever you buy something without thinking it through, you’ve become an impulse buyer. It may not sound like a big deal, but every little bit adds up, and it could add up to that goal you were trying to reach.
To curb your impulse buying tendencies and get rid of them forever, try these five action steps to financial success.
1. Develop a “Buy on Sale” Mentality
Shopping for sales, if you do it right, will limit your spending. This doesn’t mean that any time you see something on sale you buy it. It’s not a bargain if it doesn’t serve a purpose or ends up sitting around collecting dust.
When you develop a “shop on sale” mindset, what you’re doing is training yourself to hold out and put a little effort into the purchase. First, look for a discount or coupon. If you’re shopping online, try to find a better deal elsewhere.
Taking a few minutes to look for sales instead of instantly adding an item to your cart gives you a chance to make sure you really want to spend the money. If you can’t find a coupon, wait until your purchase goes on sale.
By the time you find your discount or get the sale, you may have changed your mind.
2. Set Spending Boundaries
Disciplining yourself with your spending habits is important. Only you know where your weak points are. If you’re not sure, pay attention the next time you start shopping.
Some of the most common impulse buying situations are when we engage in:
- Middle of the night online shopping
- Emotional binging
- Keeping up with the Jones’ (someone else has it, so we have to have one, too)
- Pressure-purchase sales tactics
Set boundaries for yourself and stick to them. For instance, if it’s over ten dollars, wait 24 hours to buy it. Increase the wait time as the item’s cost goes up.
Credit card debt is a huge problem, in part due to impulse spending. Another boundary you might want to establish is if you can’t pay cash (debit card) for it, don’t buy it.
Recognizing where you need boundaries is the first step in setting them!
3. Plan Ahead
The saying goes, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” In terms of your finances, this is really on point. If you fail to plan for your shopping trip, you’re planning to waste money.
One of the first things to get comfortable with in planning ahead is meal prep. If you take an hour or two once a week to decide on the meals for your week, then check grocery ads for the cheapest sales, you’ve saved so much time!
Your shopping list is made and there is no more “What do you want to eat?” “I don’t know, what do you want to eat?” conversational stress!
4. Don’t Shop Distracted
You may have seen shows where the distracted parent is on the phone, pushing the grocery cart. Meanwhile, the child is throwing everything in it and the parent has no idea until they go to check out.
This scenario is used in movies and TV shows often because it’s so relatable. Distracted shopping is the perfect situation for impulse buying to occur.
When you are spending money, stay focused on that activity. This keeps you from making “accidental” purchases and neglecting your grocery list.
5. Know Your Weaknesses
We all have our weak spots when it comes to shopping. For some people, it’s anything to do with their favorite sport. For others, it’s the newest promise to youthful skin or weight loss.
What’s your impulse buying danger area? What can any salesperson talk you into getting without much trouble? Those are the places you need to avoid until you’ve built up your boundary mentality strong enough to say no to temptation!
While you’re working on this wallet-tightening, stay away from stores that test your willpower. It’s okay to be weak, as long as you’re working on improving!
Saving money by avoiding impulse buying is a smart financial move. Every dollar you walk away from spending is more that you can put toward your goals.
Eventually, financial stability and independence will be yours, and you won’t even be interested in impulse buys!