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7 Hacks To Help You Stop Impulse Spending

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Spending money can feel good. It can get so bad that the dopamine response triggered when spending money is the same one triggered by the taste of a favorite food. Many of our purchases throughout the year can be considered impulse spending. If the spending is not managed, it can eventually get out of control.

Others who developed bad spending habits had to reign things in. Here are a few ways that helped many people get the impulse spending under control:

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1. Shop with a List

This will help you in more ways than you know at the moment. Regardless of whether you are shopping for Valentine’s Day, Christmas, or getting yourself new clothes, a list can serve as the blueprint for your day out shopping.

If you don’t have a list, you end up adding things you hadn’t considered grabbing before. A list will help you stay focused on what’s absolutely necessary before taking a look at what can wait.

Author Laura D. Adams says in her book Debt-Free Blueprint, “A good rule of thumb is to give yourself at least 24 hours to decide if buying something is a need, or just a random impulse purchase, by sleeping on it.”

2. Use a Waiting Period Rule

If you are inclined to spend anywhere from fifty bucks to more than $100, giving yourself a waiting period rule might be a good idea. Take into account your tendency to splurge, and give yourself anywhere from an hour to a month to weigh the pros and cons of the purchase.

24 hours is the recommended period one waits to make a purchase. “Sleeping on it” will give you a clear mind to think about the purchase and consider whether it is a need or simply a want.

Find something you would regret leaving without? Take a picture to get the brand name, and do some comparison shopping to see if the item is cheaper somewhere else.

3. Calculate an Item’s Value in Time

The money you earn from work should go to what’s most important first. With most impulse spending rooted in strong emotion, it’s important to think logically about the expenditure.

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How long would you have to work to earn back what you’re spending on this item? Is the cost equal to a full day’s work? Thinking more logically about your purchases will change your entire mindset, allowing you to think more rationally about impulse purchases and spending in general.

4. Don’t Buy Anything That Can’t Be Returned

When I think about all the purchases I made before verifying return policy, my head shakes at my own ridiculous impulse spending in the past.

When you’re buying anything and especially on impulse, check if there’s a return policy on your new sound system or Smart TV.

If the product has a return policy, you can resolve the gargantuan regret you feel for the impulse purchase. Products marked down are that way for a reason and picking something from the pile to buy may result in permanent contrition.

5. Reevaluate What You Already Own

In her book 6 Habits for Financial Success, author Laura D. Adams says, “Sometimes pairing down is the key to figuring out what you really use so you can find more satisfaction in those items instead of accumulating more.”

People with tons of things tend to be compulsive shoppers. I have to admit, when I was in college, I couldn’t get enough of good deals on piles of books. Now I have multiple boxes of books that need a new home.

To avoid spending like I did, figure out what it is you want so that you can find more value in what you already own. Take a page from the newest Netflix series, and ‘Marie Kondo’ your entire closet to see everything you own easily.

6. Plan Your Splurges

There is nothing wrong with splurging, so long as it is a planned splurge. Allow yourself to make small purchases on a regular basis, thereby taking the edge of the impulse to spend money on the first thing that catches your eye.

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You can think of small purchases as your ‘withdrawal medication’ from your long habit of impulse spending.

7. Give yourself a No-Spending Challenge

This might be a little more difficult than the others, but difficult is what challenges are. Challenge yourself by doing the following:

  • Buy only essentials such as groceries and toiletries
  • Cook at home every day for a whole calendar month
  • Don’t buy any new clothes (way ahead of it, Christmas wasn’t long ago)
  • Wait 24 hours before buying something over a certain amount.

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