Oct 8, 2010

Resisting the Impulsive Purchase

Many times we get the impression that to be frugal, we must be busy doing this and that, actively engaging in
money-saving activities. Sometimes the art of refraining and doing nothing is a better picture of thriftiness.  One area that by its nature is hard to resist is the impulsive purchase.  Even small impulses with frequency can add up to big unwanted spending.  

Know your weaknesses.  Study your spending habits.  If you find a regular pattern of unplanned purchases, be aware of the places and things that weaken your spending resolve.  Personally, I have a weakness for pretty material at JoAnn's or maternity clothes at the resale shop (even when I'm not pregnant!) 

Arm yourself to resist.  Often, just knowing your personal weaknesses can be enough to refrain, but if it isn't, here are some tips to help in the time of temptation.
  • Write down your resolve and post it in a conspicuous place.  If it's McDonald's hot fudge sundaes that break you, put a note on your car's dashboard to remind you.  Frame a picture of your savings goal to set on your computer desk if unneeded internet purchases are wrecking your budget.
  • Take someone along on shopping trips who will fortify your resistance.  If tools at Lowe's catch your eye, it's probably not a good idea to take the tool aficionado friend.
  • Ask a spouse or significant person in your life to hold you accountable.  Knowing that someone is going to question you about it could be enough to make you think long and hard about a purchase.
  • Make a shopping list and stick to it.  If it's not on your list, put it down and step away.
  • Only take enough cash for the things that you need. If you don't have it, you can't get it!
  • Plan a counterattack.  If candy bars at the checkout counter make you tremble, throw a granola bar or piece of candy in your purse or pocket before you leave the house. 

Make goals.  Reward yourself! Make room in your budget to occasionally indulge.  Having saved or waited for something makes the purchase that much more satisfying.  Guiltless spending beats impulsive purchases any day!

Photo credit: jimforest, flickr.com

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