Is your house cluttered with “smart” kitchen tools, exercise equipment, or clothes you barely use? If yes, then you may be an impulse buyer. Admit it. Everytime you see TV ads, year-end sale signs, and 50%-off labels, your hands start to itch. You can’t help but to pull out your credit card and place an order for that handy Panini press (you have to have that perfect panini for breakfast, right?). Unfortunately, impulsive buying is your wallet’s number one enemy and your credit card company’s BFF. No matter how huge the discount is, buying anything you don’t really need will drain your savings fast. So before things get worse, get rid of your impulsive buying habits with these tips:
1. List down stuff you need to buy.
Prepare a shopping list before you head to the store or the mall. This way, you’ll have more control over your purchases. You’d be more tempted to grab any object you like if you don’t have a plan or list to follow. Having a list doesn’t mean you’re completely safe from your impulsive urges. This will require lots of self-discipline. But don’t be too hard on yourself if you fail to stick to your list the first time. Just keep using a shopping list and try to stick to it until it becomes a habit.
2. Don’t shop with an enabler.
Year-end sales, discounts up to 80% off, and buy-1-take-1 deals--the temptations are endless. Add to this a friend/enabler, and you’ve got a recipe for another budget busting shopping spree. It’s best to go shopping with someone who has more control over his or her own buying urges. Someone who can give you an honest and practical answer to whether or not you really need that cute shirt is the best person to bring with you on a shopping trip.
3. Use cash instead of credit cards.
As much as possible, use cash when buying stuff instead of credit cards. When you see your money disappear right before your eyes, it’s easier to stop yourself from throwing away cash. If you’re used to bringing your credit cards with you whenever you step out, leave them at home at least once a week. Then slowly work your way up to bringing your cards with you only one to two days a week. Keep pushing yourself until you’re using the credit cards only during emergencies.
4. Don’t shop if you’re hungry, sad, or in a bad mood.
Have you ever gone inside a grocery store while hungry, and you start grabbing bags of chips, chocolates, and cookies thinking that you really need them? Because you’re so hungry, that box of candy never looked so good. Then when you get to the cashier, you realize you just spent half of your food budget on junk food. Shopping while hungry makes you an impulsive buyer and makes it harder for you to make money-savvy decisions. The same goes if you’re sad or in a bad mood. Because you’re feeling down, your tendency is to cheer yourself up with something new. But the high you experience after a shopping spree is just temporary. Once you’re over with that new pair of shoes or outfit, you’re back to square one—and you’re feeling more depressed than ever because now you’re sad and broke. So before you head out to shop, make sure you’re not in an emotional state. You don’t want your stress hormones getting the best of you and your wallet.
5. Come up with fun and exciting financial goals.
Think of fun financial goals you want to achieve in a given time period. A good example would be to save enough money by the end of the year for a grand holiday. After all, who doesn’t want to spend a week or two at the beach or outdoors at Christmas? Or, how about driving around in a new car? To make it more fun, join a money-saving challenge. Start small by tucking away 10 bucks a day for the first week. Move up to 20 bucks a day for the following week, and then do 30 bucks a day for the third week. Do this for an entire year. At the end of the challenge, you’ll have enough money for that Bondi Beach getaway or a late model SUV.
Getting rid of impulse buying is tough, but with enough determination and practice, you can kick those bad buying habits for good. Once you’ve established better shopping habits, it’s easier to say goodbye to the clutter and debt that’s crippling your savings account.