Spending is not necessarily the enemy of saving, but impulsive spending definitely is. Whether you are buying something just because it’s on sale, it’s conveniently located, or it can temporarily get you out of a bad mood, impulsive buying can ruin your money saving plan and put you over your budget.
It is a common problem to many people and I am not an exception. Then, how to stop compulsive spending? Here are the tips that I’ve used to avoid impulsive spending.
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1. Make a shopping list before going to a grocery store
When I shop for groceries, I think about what foods I need for meals, snack, and personal and household necessities. I only put the things that I will need now or in the near future on the list, so I won’t end up buying something that I don’t really need (or forget something that I actually need).
2. Always keep the receipt for at least a week
The reason why it is called impulsive spending is because of its lack of deliberation, and as a result, you may change your mind later. Let’s admit that–we do shopping for many purposes, not just because we really need something. We shop for fun, for a sense of control, or for a distraction from certain unpleasant issues. I often find what I’ve bought impulsively is not something I need or even want. Having the receipt and keeping the product in the original condition will allow me to return it hassle-free.
3. Browse online retail sites as if you are doing a window shopping
As online shopping is gaining tremendous popularity, shoppers are faced with an abundance of choices, from chic vintage dresses to newly released lipsticks, from fancy toys to new tech gadgets. Besides, the convenience of one-click checkout may further drive impulsive buying. What I suggest is, unless you already know you need to buy online, you treat the browsing experience as a window shopping experience—just a leisure activity without any intention of purchasing.
It has been suggested that window shopping (and browsing shopping) can be a mental refresher. If I really like something I see online, I usually save the page and take another look after a couple of days to see whether I still feel the same.
4. Watch out for those holiday sales
Big seasonal sales tend to happen during holidays—Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Memorial Day, etc. Those holiday sales can be a double-edged sword. If something on your “things-needed” list has a big price cut during those sales, by all means, go for it. However, if you are rushing to stores simply because you cannot resist big discounts or you just don’t want to miss the annual “shopping ritual,” you are engaged in impulsive shopping—spending the money on unnecessary stuff.
In addition to these tips, you will need some self-discipline and willpower, especially if you are already used to impulsive shopping. It is time to change that because a healthy spending habit is an important step to reach your financial goals.