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3 Tips to Stop Impulse Buying and Make Yourself a Budget

Oct. 16, 2013
Managing Money, Personal Finance
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Everyone has experienced a moment of mental math and gymnastics to justify a purchase. Usually it comes down to whether or not you can afford it. If you can, then you’ll whip out your wallet.

Say hello to the impulse buy mentality.

Impulse buying can take on a variety of forms — from grabbing that new backpack with the fancy built-in laptop compartment to indulging in an extra beer when you know you’ve had enough — and is often accompanied with feelings of guilt. Don’t feel guilty, feel responsible. Here are three ways to put off those impulse purchases and save yourself some cash:

1. Follow the time rule

If you really want something, take a step back from the computer or checkout line and let your rational thought process prevail. Take a walk around the mall, read a book, or make a cup of tea – anything to get you out of the shopping mindset. Wait at least half an hour (some people wait a full day) before purchasing something.

2. Make a budget for impulse spending

Look: not everyone has the willpower to simply walk away from an object of desire. Sometimes it really is a unique situation that may never pop again (say, for an antique or a painting). Understandable. But there is a way to be prepared for such situation, and it’s called the splurge budget.

A splurge budget is exactly what it sounds: a set amount of money you’ll allow yourself to spend in a given month (or week) on random goods you may want to buy. You certainly don’t have to spend it all, but once it’s spent, it’s spent. Setting aside money for impulse purchases may sound like you’re enabling yourself to spend irresponsibly, but it’s actually helping you to develop important skills: budgeting and giving yourself limits.

3. Make it a treat

Everyone likes rewards. They’re great motivation and can provide you, the award-winner, a small sense of smugness by knowing that you deserve whatever award you’ve won. That small sense of entitlement can be a great motivator for putting off impulse purchases.

Take a look at the item you’d like to buy and give yourself a goal — say running three miles everyday or taking on extra assignments  — to work towards. If you can accomplish that goal, then you can indulge and purchase your reward. This method also has the benefit of giving yourself more time to think about whether you really need the item or not and to do some additional research to see if you’re getting the best deal.

The best way to stop impulse buys is simple self control. But being able to tell yourself “no,” is skill which needs to be developed over time. Don’t beat yourself up over the occasional splurge, but know when you need to set aside time to correct your spending.

Shopping image via Shutterstock

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