Since I am participating in a No-Buy November Challenge, I thought it would be helpful to outline some ways to combat impulse spending. These methods can be useful in everyday life and maybe even more pertinent if you have debt or a large expense to save for.
Before we jump in to the meat of the matter, let us take a brief look at what is impulse spending.
Impulse spending is any purchase that was unplanned and made in on a whim. These purchase are often motivated being in a low mood and using shopping to boost that mood. It is often quickly followed by remorse and depression which can lead to more spending.
This is not to be confused with simply being spontaneous and adventurous however, some of my best memories were made of an impulsive decision to go to an event.
Much like binge eating, it can quickly become a serious problem if left unchecked; just like those extra pounds, if you don't change your habits you will find that you are always carrying around credit card debt.
Let's get started:
1) Know your motivations.
In order to change a habit you must understand why you do it and also have a compelling reason why you want the change.
Take a quiet moment to be honest with yourself about what usually triggers your spending. It may be helpful to write this down in a journal. Also, write down why you want change. This could be to save money, reduce debt or just to find a healthier outlet for your depression.
Once you have this information, make sure to keep it in the forefront of your mind.
2) Change Your Defaults
If you usually head to the mall to blow off some steam, go to a park or to the library instead.
Do you get a lot of sale emails and usually end up buying something? Then un-subscribe from all of those sites and don't sign up for any-more and avoid visiting those sites altogether.
If you find that when you go shopping with a friend and you end up buying something just because they did, pick another venue for your social activities that won't trigger your spending.
You get the idea, whatever triggers your spending, replace it with a fun, free activity or cut it out all together.
3) Put a 3 Days Rule in Place
We all need to buy things at some point to fill a gap in our wardrobe or to meet a specific need. However before you buy anything, make yourself wait at least 3 Days. Do not be suckered into flash sales and one time only deals, there will always be more of the item and at some point it will go on sale.
In this three days, look for alternative solutions to your need. Take a look at what you already have on hand and see if they can work. Ask your friends and family if they have what you need sitting in storage or they known someone who came lend you one or even give it to you.
At the end of the three days, revisit the item and decide if you still want it. If you still feel unsure, wait until you are certain that you want to purchase the item.
4) Make your Purchases Manual
Deactivate your one-click spending and where ever possible use cash instead of plastic. The goal here is to give you more time to think about what you are doing. Even after the 3 day wait, you should still try to be 100% positive that you do want to or need to purchase the item.
Another trick is to remove your card details from on-line shops so that every time you need to buy something you have enter the information manually.
In no situation should you spend more money that you have on hand. If you are going into debt to make a purchase that isn't an emergency need, do not make the purchase.
5)Have a Support System
Don't keep it a secret. Let your friends and family know that you are trying to take control of your spending habits.
You can implement a buddy system where you have to admit to a friend what you bought or what you are thinking of buying, and have them okay the purchase or remind you of your goals.
This support system should be encouraging and also tough enough to keep you accountable.
If you don't feel comfortable with telling your close friends, you can find communities on-line that can offer that support.
Impulse spending like any other learned behaviour will take some time to overcome. Be kind to yourself in the process and keep going even if you slip-up early on. Forgive yourself for your past mistakes and learn how to avoid the same pitfalls in the future by honestly evaluating that happened.
Don't give up. You can beat this.