Lately while window shopping I’ve come across quite a few items that I want to buy – a nice pair of headphones, a new sweater and some electronic gadgets.
If I bought all these items at once I would have easily doubled my monthly personal spending. I think making a budget and sticking to it is essential for achieving long term wealth, so I usually can convince myself to not make impulse purchases.
Other times it’s not so easy. I convince myself that I ‘must’ have the item right away.
Here’s how I successfully cut down my impulse spending, and how you can do the same the next time you are debating buying something on a whim.
Related: Things I Refuse to Pay For
Making a List
One of the reasons a monthly budget is so effective is because it clearly lists what the amount of monthly spending money is (every budget should include some monthly spending money, or ‘fun’ money as some call it).
After I started debating all the things I wanted to buy, I decided to make a list of them all to see if it was achievable under my current monthly budget.
Making a list of the things I wanted (rather than simply going out and buying them) made me realize how quickly the costs added up – and they added up fast.
The items I wanted totaled over $500 – almost double my monthly spending money.
Adding Details to Each Item
The next step I did was to add details to each item – the cost, whether it was on sale and why I needed each item.
Adding more details really made me think twice about buying the items and also made me consider:
- If there was a cheaper way to get the item
- If the purchase could be delayed (delayed gratification)
- If there was some way I could get the item for free (such as asking for gift cards for an upcoming birthday or holiday and then using them to buy the item)
- If the item was something I actually needed or just wanted
My logic was that if I couldn’t even think of a valid reason why I needed the item, it was probably something I shouldn’t buy.
The Numbers Don’t Lie
After the items I wanted and writing a few details on each one, I then looked at the prices.
It’s one thing to try and convince yourself you need an item worth $20, but it’s another thing to make an impulse buy for $200 or more.
The nice thing about adding details is that the numbers don’t lie – if the total of all the items is over the monthly spending budget then something needs to change.
In my case the total was over $500, so I knew I had to change something.
Cutting My Impulse Spending
The process of writing out each item I thought I ‘needed’ and then adding details to each one added a sense of clarity to my spending.
Rather than simply buying it when I saw it, I started to realize that some of things I wanted were just unnecessary or could be delayed.
Related: Purchases That Saved Me Money
After all, there’s no sense in buying something if I couldn’t justify it with a valid reason.
Conclusion: the process of writing out each item I want to buy (with details) rather than simply buying it has cut down my impulse spending by about half.
I used to buy the occasional item without really thinking about it, but now I tend to want more details on any item worth over $20 to see if it’s something I truly need.
How do you control your impulse spending?