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Monday, June 23, 2008

Reducing Impulse Purchases

One thing I've noticed since getting into the world of personal finance and carefully tracking my expense categories is that I'm much less likely to make impulse purchases. It used to be that I would see something that I wanted and know that I could afford it so I would just buy it without another thought. Now, for the most part, I stop and think about what I'm about to buy before I buy it. Is this really something I need? Or if it's not something I need, is it something I really want to buy right now? Can I find it for less money later? Will I still be happy with this purchase tomorrow? Next week?

One trick that I have learned is that I will pick up an item in the store and walk around with it for a while as I'm looking around the store before I actually make the purchase. Sometimes I decide to put the item back on the shelf. Other times I decide to buy it.

I do occasionally find myself reverting to my old ways, and every time, there's a moment of guilt at the impulse purchase. But even then, I find that most of the time, my impulse purchases now are things that I really do enjoy. For example, on a whim, I picked up a bag of gourmet coffee at Harry and David the other day. This is something that's a big treat for me, as I love good flavored coffee. Was it something I needed? No. But I realized that in less than a month, I have family and friends coming to stay with me for a few days. How nice it will be to have this coffee to share with them.

Additionally, the impulse purchase I'm talking about here is about $12, as compared to impulse purchases of yore, which could be anywhere from $25 to $50 at a time. Plus, if I think about it, I normally buy pretty good coffee for daily use that, on sale, costs about $6. So really, the impulse buy only cost me $6 more than normal.

Am I justifying the impulse purchase? No. I still would prefer to consider all my purchases before buying. But I do like that my impulse purchases have turned into something so small. Maybe in a few more months, they'll be down to pennies.

Amusingly, I'm going to end this post with day two of the abundant life spending spree.

Day 2 - $50
With $50 to spend on anything today, I would buy a skirt that I've been eyeing in a catalog. It's casual, probably too casual for work, and admittedly, I don't wear a lot of skirts except for at work. But it's so pretty!


Scrumpy's Baker said...

My new mantra with impulse buying is "Will this work in the fabulous new condo I'm saving for?" So far its working, and I'm hoping that in six months these magic words will still be working for me.

And... I'm also staying out of Target, my favorite locale for impulse buys.

Scott said...

Hi Megan-

If I'm shopping without my kids, I walk around with items in my hands and do without a shopping cart. Makes me hold the item and really make sure I need it. Also, store lines will impact my purchasing. If I have more than 10 items, I might put a few back so I can get out quicker.

Arizona Installment Loans said...

I don't think it's a bad idea to question every purchase that is not a necessity.I also like to take a day or even longer to think about the purchase and if I really want it. Most times I forget about the item, which means I really didn't want it and it was good that I didn't spend money on it!Other times I can't stop thinking about it and decide to get it.