Clothes? Games? Books? Magazines? Video Games? Electronics? Gum or candy at the checkout line? Cookies or a cake you’re when grocery shopping? Do these kinds of buys sound familiar? Impulse buying is a massive problem for many people. For many, it virtually kills the concept of “saving money,” which we all intend to do with out extra income. It’s also how retailers make quite a bit of the revenue they generate.
We all get happy and excited about seeing new things, and we imagine what we could do with them. That leads many of us to buying so many things we don’t REALLY need, just things we REALLY want. At least in that moment. We think how good that book we saw on the shelf looked while forgetting we could simply go to the library and borrow the book for no cost. We see a new video games and think how much fun that would be to play with our kids, while forgetting we have games at home that the kids have never even played! We see an amazing new t-shirt or pair of jeans at the outlet store, and forget that we have so many clothes at home we have not even taken the tags off. The list of where we throw our money goes on and on!
Another big killer are those obnoxious little displays by the check-out lines. They are there just for that: to get us to spend those couple of extra dollars for something we don’t need. It’s playing into that impulse buy that we are all trying to avoid. If we are honest with ourselves we don’t need those petty little items we buy at the checkout: a pack of gum, a tin of mints, a candy bar, a stick of lip balm, a pack of batteries, a cool-looking lighter, the travel sized hand sanitizers/lotions, or the copy of the gossip magazine that looks “so interesting”.
However, despite all the ways that people are able to “throw away” money with impulse buying, there is good news: people are able to take steps to fix the problem. Despite our modern society’s constant need for instant gratification, and tendencies to have frivolous spending practices people can do certain things to help avoid just throwing money away on things that we won’t really use. Many people think, “Well, yeah, some people can do that, but I can’t.” That’s not true. It’s a matter of self-discipline, and wanting to help yourself save more and spend less.
Here are some tips to help while on the journey to that goal.
Know What You Are Frivolously Buying
We all have those things we are just bound to go out and spend extra money on. It’s different for everyone, but we all have those specific things that just kill us when it comes to spending too much money! A recent poll showing the breakdown of “impulse spending” found many people have more than one trigger category, but everyone seemed to have some problem spending on something they didn’t need.
The study showed 60% admitted to overspending or buying too many clothes. 53% admitted to going out to eat frequently, or at fancy places that cost too much money. 37% admitted to overspending on shoes to help accessorize the new outfits they had purchased. 39% admitted to overspending on reading material like magazines and books. 33% overspent on entertainment music or movies. 19% admitted to overspending on handheld technologies or gadgets
Think A Second Time: The best way to avoid spending on things you don’t need is to ask yourself the question: “Do I really need this?” or “Why am I buying this?” before you buy each item. Chances are there will be a lot of things you realize you don’t need to buy. If you realize it, put it back and walk away! You will save more money than you ever realized!
Recognize Your Weaknesses
Once you realize what you are overspending money on, then comes the hard part: Admitting your weaknesses! Ask yourself the most imperative question: What is making me buy these items I do not need? Then consider the following realities you will experience later:
The Money “Blues”: This comes when you get that dreaded credit card bill in the mail, and realize all the emotional buys you have made. It leaves you sitting there thinking: “Why did I buy all of this stuff that I never needed?” as you contemplate how on earth you are going to come up with the money to pay that bill off and avoid the ridiculous interest rates that will come with the bill if you DON’T pay it off THIS MONTH oftentimes by a date specified on the bill!
Think Again: Before you go shopping ask yourself one really odd question: “How am I feeling right now?” If you are upset or depressed about something in your daily life many studies show that you are more likely to spend money on things you really don’t need. These are the purchases you regret later. Choose a different time to shop when you are in a better mood.
Sales: Avoid hitting the sales racks for things you TRULY don’t need. The “Oh, look how much money I will save” factor kicks in and you are more likely than normal to overspend. You would have saved a lot more money staying home, and not buying anything you didn’t need! Remember, most places run sales frequently so there will be another bargain sometime soon! It’s how places keep customers coming back for more! When you TRULY need it here will be something good to buy.
Avoid Buying On Sensory Instinct: Walking into a place and realizing how good something looks, tastes, or smells is another way people are guaranteed to overbuy. It’s like going into a bakery and there is fresh-baked bread, or going to the movies and smelling the buttery popcorn. The same thing can be said for perfumes, candles, and many other products. The smell overwhelms us into buying something we don’t need. Avoid these kinds of places unless you have a specific need to be there for one product, otherwise you are likely to come out with a bunch of stuff you don’t need: including some that may not be great for your waist line.
Reality Hits: Avoid these purchases for that feeling later of standing there going “Why on earth did I buy this?” This feeling usually hits while you are trying to balance a checkbook, or trying to pay for things you NEED versus what you want! You are short money for rent, utilities, food, etc. and you realize all the money you “wasted” on things you enjoyed in the moment, but now have no need for. Then you realize all you have a need for is the MONEY you spent frivolously!
Do Your Arithmetic
Understand the concept of how much money you take in each month versus what you spend. Then divide the budget into needs versus wants. Studies show that about $350 a month go to things people “want”. Most people spend about $11/day on “splurges”, or things they don’t need to live. If you saved even half of that imagine how much money you could save!
Track every single penny you spend for one month, and you will see where that extra money goes. It’s likely many small, “petty” purchases that add up to a lot of money. That $2.99 gossip magazine at the checkout when you were the grocery store. That $0.99 pack of gum from Wal-Mart. That $1.00 McDonalds coffee. The “occasional” $3.99 Starbucks treat you get a few times a week. Next thing you know you have spent a lot of money, and really gotten a lot of nothing for it! Aim to cut that spending in ½ the subsequent month! Allow yourself to enjoy a treat, but just not quite so MANY treats!
Recognize NEEDS – Save For WANTS
Make two lists. One will contain your NEEDS, the other your WANTS! You might want a new bike or a new video game. Budget how much you NEED each month to pay for expenses. Then whatever is left goes into two pots. 75% savings, 25% wants! That way you guarantee you are always saving money for a rainy day. Plus, when you save for something you want you are GAURANTEED to appreciate it a lot more!
Avoid “Trouble” Zones
When you are in stores, avoid things like checkout lines when you can. If there are self-checkouts use them! Annoying as those machines might be, it gives you a lot less time standing in line waiting for a cashier to determine that you might want some of that stuff on those impulse racks that you have no need for!
Avoid shopping when you are hungry as well. You won’t BELIEVE how many things end up in your cart you don’t really even need. It all just looks good when you are ravaged! Eat something before you go, even if it’s a cereal bar or piece of fruit. Not feeling those hunger pains can save you $100s each year, when you are not buying something you have no need for, but just because it looks good! Also enjoy trimming a few inches off the waist line as most of what you buy is likely to be snacks and JUNK!
Learn To Say NO
Finally, as you don’t give into your endless desires when you shop also quit giving in to those impulses of others. Whether it’s elderly parents or the kids or the spouse you don’t have to give in to the pleas for extras. If you manage the household budget, tell everyone how things are before you get to the store, and that’s how it will stay!
Kids are the ones most likely to endless plea for extras, but you can say NO! They get one treat when you go shopping, with a money limit! They don’t NEED ten more toy cars or five candy bars. It will save you a lot of money, and headaches, if you just learn to say NO! They may throw a fit a few times, but when they learn that your NO means NO they will likely quit trying for the extras they know they won’t get, too!