You’re just about to head to the register at the store when you see it -- a dress, pair of shoes, or gadget that you suddenly just can’t live without. The problem is, you didn’t plan on buying anything today and don’t have room in your budget for it. You buy the item on an impulse and regret it. While you can’t prevent things from catching your eye when you’re out shopping, you can learn to manage your impulsive buying behavior.
Bring Just Enough
You can’t give into impulsive buying behavior if you don’t have the money with you to buy something that wasn’t on your list. Instead of packing a credit or debit card on your next shopping trip, bring only cash, and only enough to cover the cost of any items on your list. If you’re worried about going out without the lifeline that a credit card can provide, stash an extra 20 dollar bill in your wallet or purse, and only use it in an emergency, such as if you run out of gas or need to take a taxi home.
Make Yourself Wait
Creating a waiting period before you purchase something that isn’t on your list and isn’t an immediate need will help you avoid an impulse buy. Your waiting period can be any length of time that works for you. It could be one month, until your budget resets, or it even could be as little as a day. In many cases, putting an item down, backing away and saying you’ll return to it in a certain amount of time can be all you need to overcome the urge to buy it.
Check Your Mood
A study published in 2013 in the Journal of Economic Psychology suggested that people prone to compulsive buying were likely to do so to improve their emotional state or mood. If you’re not feeling in the best mood, you might end up spending more than you had intended when you go shopping. Although buying something might provide a quick, temporary pick-me-up, the results won’t last and you might come to regret the purchase later. If you’re feeling down, wait to go shopping, even for things you need, until you’re feeling better.
Get Off Lists
Emailed promotions from your favorite retailer can make it difficult to say no to a purchase and paper sales flyers can let you know about the sales on things you didn’t know you needed. Those emails and flyers can be a big temptation to buy, buy, buy. If you want to cut back on your impulse buys, the best thing to do is to get off of the lists. Scroll to the bottom of each email and click on the “unsubscribe” link. Stopping paper flyers can be trickier. However, you can start by visiting DMA Choice, run by the Direct Marketing Association, and request that your name and address be removed from mailing lists.
Don’t Restrict Yourself Too Much
People who go on restrictive diets tend to end up overindulging one day and feeling a lot of guilt. The same can be true when people restrict their spending. Instead of pulling your belt too tightly, give yourself a small amount of wiggle room. For example, you can create a budget line for “fun buys.” Anything can go, as long as you don’t exceed the budgeted amount.
Avoiding impulse buys can be difficult at first. But, with a few tricks up your sleeve, you can easily learn to say “no thanks” to the things you don’t really need or want.
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