I can admit that I have been guilty of the occasional impulse buy. Impulse spending can add up fast, and usually leads to clutter that you don’t want, so it is important to know how to do it the right way.
It is Okay to Splurge on the Small Stuff
When I am considering a large unplanned purchase, I start by thinking of what that is going to be worth in the long run. I don’t worry a whole lot about an occasional stop in the coffee shop or an extra drink on a Saturday night, I am talking about the bigger ticket items. If it needs a charger to work, it is probably on my “big ticket” list.
The reason it is okay to spend on the small things is twofold. First, if you are a compulsive shopper you get the “wow” feeling of buying something new. When you get that feeling from the small stuff, there is less desire to get it on the big stuff. Second, the small stuff is not a “big win” that is going to make a difference for most people.
Of course, if you have any credit card debt, no level of impulse spending is ever okay. You need to pay off your debt before you can justify wasting money on something fun.
Don’t Give in on Big Ticket Items
Lately I came across this thought while lying in bed in my underwear. I had Amazon open on my laptop and I had my mouse hovering over the buy button for a fancy new Kindle Fire. I don’t really need a Kindle or any sort of tablet. My two laptops, Google Chrome netbook, other netbook, and phone cover all of my electronic needs, and I don’t read enough to justify buying it to have an eReader.
I knew that $200 is not going to make me rich or poor, but that kind of money does add up quick. Dropping $200 on something that is going to be fun for a few weeks and then get dusty is a real waste.
That does not mean you should never buy anything expensive. Some people would get queasy spending the $300 I did on my custom sunglasses, but I use them at least 2-3 hours a day during the week and even more on the weekend, so the hourly cost of my sunglasses, which I will probably have for 3-4 years, is negligible.
Alternative – A Good Place to Spend
After I didn’t buy a Kindle, I got a little drive to buy something. It was not logical, but we are not always logical people. I didn’t want to waste on stuff that I didn’t need or really want, so I found a better thing to blow some money on.
I transferred the $200 from my checking account into my investment account, plus a little extra, and bought a new stock.
The next time you feel like you are going to make a bad money decision, you can try the investment route. It didn’t give me any extra junk to bring home, it didn’t take money away from my future, and it didn’t make me feel guilty. On the contrary, I bought something that I knew was going to be even better for my future.
What Do You Do?
How do you keep from impulse shopping? What is your strategy to save that money for your future? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.
Image by Jo Jakeman/flickr