By Amy Maliga, Take Charge America
Few things can derail your plans to save money more quickly than impulse buying. And it doesn’t have to be a large purchase, either. A few small, unplanned purchases a week can really add up. Before you know it, the money you’d planned to save for the month is gone and you have very little to show for it. Impulse buying can be a hard habit to break.
Here are some tips to help you control the urge to buy on impulse:
Define & Share Your Goals
You’ll have more success as a saver if you know exactly what you’re working toward and when you want to achieve it. Are you saving for a vacation? A down payment on a new car? Or maybe you’re trying to establish an emergency fund with three months of living expenses. Whatever your goal, know it and share it with people who can help you make it a reality. Choose outspoken friends and family members who won’t hesitate to bring impulse buying to your attention.
If you don’t need to shop for necessities, don’t go shopping. Staying out of stores will reduce the urge to buy something new just because it catches your eye. Also be sure to unsubscribe from retailers’ promotional emails. Seeing every sale, special and new product announcement triggers the urge to buy. When you do need to purchase something online, simply do a search for the retailer’s current promo codes to help you get the best deal.
Use Visual Reminders
Place a reminder card in your wallet next to your debit or credit card that lists your savings goals on one side and an encouraging quote on the other. It will make you think twice when you’re about to buy something you don’t need. You can also post your goal in your office at work, on the refrigerator at home, and on the bathroom mirror so it’s one of the first things you see every morning.
Impose a Waiting Period
When something shiny and new catches your eye, keep walking, go home and sleep on it. Tell yourself that if you’re still thinking about it after 48 hours, you’ll be able to consider the purchase. Chances are, you’ll forget about it long before the waiting period is up. If it’s still on your mind after two days, ask yourself if it’s something you truly need or just something you’d like to have.
Find Alternatives to Shopping
Impulse buying is often a response to boredom, loneliness or other uncomfortable feelings. Instead of taking your emotions out on your savings account, find other ways to address your feelings. If you’re bored, distract yourself with a good book or movie. If you’re sad or lonely, call a friend to chat or get together for coffee or a nice, long walk.