At the end of the day, effective money management is largely about effective planning. Impulse shopping clearly goes against this principle. What’s more, impulse shopping can end up being some of the most expensive shopping you can do. Do yourself and your finances a favour and learn to stop it. Here are some tips to help.
Track your spending thoroughly
It’s a cliche but it’s true. Pennies really do add up into pounds. Admittedly, you won’t get much (if anything) for a penny these days, but the basic principle still holds good. You need to track your small purchases because they can end up costing a lot of money.
Make two commitments. Firstly, commit to recording all your purchases, even if you don’t get a receipt. Secondly, commit to checking your receipts. Big shops, like supermarket runs, can be major impulse-shopping traps. It’s just so easy for stuff to slip into your trolley and pass by unnoticed because it’s part of an “essential” shop.
One way to deal with this is to shop from a list. Make a promise to yourself that you’ll only add an item to your basket if it’s on your list or if you realize that you genuinely need it. For example, you may have just forgotten to add it to your list. Then compare your receipt to your list to see how good you are at sticking to this.
Tracking your spending thoroughly should give you an insight into where and when you are impulse shopping. This is your starting point for putting a stop to it. In some cases, your “temptation triggers” will be obvious. For example, impulse shopping often goes hand-in-hand with convenience shopping. The solution to this is usually just to get yourself organized.
In other cases, they will be less obvious and you may have to do some real thinking to figure them out. Be honest with yourself. It’s in your best interests. Frankly, there’s no point in trying to come up with a sensible reason for purchases that were fuelled by emotion. You just need to recognize the emotion and deal with it.
If you’re really stuck, try asking someone who knows you well. Be aware that they may not be right in what they say. They may, however, put you on the right track.
Learn to delay
If you find a genuine bargain on an item you need or at least know you’re going to need, then, by all means, grab it while it’s there. In fact, if you see something you honestly know is a real want, and you can afford it, then by all means buy it. For everything else, however, learn to delay.
Be aware that new-season items are generally restocked if they run out. This is particularly true of clothes because people tend to buy them, try them on and return the “misses”. You can use apps like Shoptagr to alert you to when an item comes back into stock (or reaches a certain price).
As items come to the end of their season, they may be allowed to go out of stock. That said, you can often find them online. What’s more, if they were popular, they may well be reworked for the new season.
Give yourself a budget
If you love the thrill of impulse shopping then give yourself a budget for it and stick to that. This will encourage you to lay off the lazy buys, like the coffee you could make yourself. You can, however, still make the fun purchases.
Hopefully, most of your financial goals will be sensible ones. Life, however, needs to have some fun too. Set yourself at least one savings goal which is just a reward for being good. Then, when you’re about to make yourself an impulse purchase, ask yourself if you really want the item, or if you’d rather put the money towards your reward.
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