Over the years I've been fairly good at keeping myself from spending money that I don't have through impulsive purchases, but it isn't an accident.
There are a lot of places that I love spending money, and places that I'm constantly finding myself being tested:
- Electronics stores
- Anything on Amazon.com
- Fatwallet.com and other deals sites.
- Clearance sections of pretty much any store
Luckily I've trained myself to become more conscious about the decisions that I make, and I have setup some roadblocks to spending that make it a lot easier to say no. I thought it might be helpful to look at some of those ideas today.
5 Ways To Help Yourself Say No To The Urge To Splurge
- Get yourself a money mentor: If you have someone who you trust who can keep you accountable for your spending decisions, talk to them regularly about the decisions that you're making, and walk through potential purchases with them, and ask for their advice on whether you're making a good decision or not. Make sure it's someone who won't be afraid to tell you when you're making a boneheaded decision. This could be your spouse, or another trusted person.
- Avoid visiting stores or deals websites unless you really NEED something: Sometimes the key to not spending a lot of money is just not putting yourself in a situation where you might be tempted to spend. For example, whenever I go to our local Micro Center computer store, I'm always tempted to spend a ton of money on things I don't need. Cheap flash memory cards, video cards, 7.1 surround pc speakers, etc. I've decided that I just won't go to Micro Center unless there's something that I really need there. That doesn't happen very often. By the same token I try to avoid visiting some of my favorite deals websites very often because it often leads to impulse purchases.
- Employ a 1 month spending rule: If you're going to buy something, give yourself some time to think about it. Dave Ramsey suggests waiting 24 hours, but I like to wait at least a month (especially on high ticket items) before I purchase it. Often you'll find that just waiting for a short amount of time will mean that you either no longer want the item, or realize that it isn't really what you wanted in the first place. Also – waiting can often have the happy side effect of seeing prices drop on certain items.
- Pay cash only: One thing that I've only started doing in the past couple of years is only buying an item once I have the cash to pay for it. In the past I might have financed a TV or game console before I had the cash. If I had waited a few more months I may not have had such a strong urge to buy. Paying cash also hurts a bit more – financing something makes things seem cheaper because you're often only looking at the payments. Financing a TV for only $50/month vs. paying $1500 cash for it makes the purchase seem quite different. We recently did this when we took several months to save for and pay for our new tv.
- Before you check out, ask yourself, “Do I really need this?”: I can't count how many times I've been at a store ready to purchase something – and stopped at the register and asked myself that question. It seems simple – but more often than not I'll realize that “No, I don't need this”, put the item down and walk out.
Beyond these 5 things I also think it's important to make sure that you set up a family budget, and set specific amounts for your expense categories every month. At our house we use the envelope system, and have a specific amount of money set aside every month in our budget for “blow money” or money we can use towards whatever we want. If an item is above that amount – we have to save for it until we have enough money allocated. That one step alone quickly short circuits a lot of impulse buys.
Do you have your own tips for preventing impulse purchases? Have you saved money by setting up your own roadblocks? Tell us about it in the comments!