Even the most budget-conscious consumers have moments of weakness when it comes to a “good” sale or a heavy discount that seems hard to pass up. According to a recent CrediCards.com survey, 84% of respondents admitted to making impulse purchases. Many were small and inexpensive, but more than half admitted to spending $100 or more on an impulse buy.
Giving in to those spontaneous spending decisions can throw off your carefully planned budget and short you in important areas. So here are six tips to help keep you on track:
1. Shop with a Plan
Whether it’s your weekly grocery trip or time to purchase holiday gifts, make a list and stick to it. Heading to the market without meal planning is a sure way to overspend on food you might not even end up using. The same goes for gifts: research your purchases ahead of time and set a spending limit.
2. Ditch the Cards
Leave your extra credit cards at home and try to make purchases with a set amount of cash.
3. Sleep on It
If you come across a great deal on something you weren’t planning to buy, give it a day to consider whether you really need the item. Making a decision with clarity can help curb unwarranted spending.
4. Avoid Retail Therapy
Some people eat when they’re stressed; some spend. If you’re the latter, learn to recognize your emotions and channel that energy in a positive, cash-free way. Ask yourself: “Is this going to make me happy in the long run? Will I still be able to pay bills and save if I buy this?” If the answers are no, walk away. The same theory applies when you’re in a great mood. Don’t embrace that carefree attitude so much that you buy unnecessary items.
5. Don’t Shop in Groups*
In general, try to avoid shopping with friends. The peer pressure—whether it’s overt or just imagined—can lead to overspending if you attempt to keep up with their purchasing habits. *The exception: if your shopping companion is there for the express purpose of ensuring you stick to the budget, bring them along.
6. Do the Math
How many hours do you have to work to pay for the item? Then, consider its longevity and meaningfulness. A new wardrobe will go out of style in a year or two. But spending that money on a weekend getaway with friends or family could provide memories for a lifetime. Ultimately, you want to weigh your needs and wants, then apply extra spending dollars where they’ll make the most impact.