24 Hours. One Day. This short time period can make all the difference when it comes to sticking to your budget. It can keep your financial plans from derailing.
Why? Because 24 hours is long enough to stop you from making that impulse buy that was not part of the plan. The one that sends your budget over the top. The one that leaves you scratching your head wondering what forces prompted you to buy this thing anyway.
Apparently the vast majority of us are not immune to impulse buys. In fact, about 90% of us make occasional impulse buys (citation by Mediascope, Inc.). Many a study has been done on the motivation for impulse purchases. The most common factor that makes us reach for that “gotta have this moment item” is a sale.
That’s right, we become bedazzled by the SALE, SALE, SALE signs, the $1 hurry now bins strategically placed in the cart path, and the advertising warning us not to miss out on the deal of a lifetime. As you can image, impulse buying is especially bad around the holidays. I will fess up to that one, but largely because all I can think about is grabbing something and getting the heck out of the store before I am pinned to the wall by the holiday crowd.
And online shopping is just as tempting as those in-store displays. According to User Interface Engineering’s research, almost 40% of all money spent on e-commerce sites are impulse buys.
Aside from the love of sales, another factor contributing to impulse buys is emotion. Having a bad day? That new outfit is sure to cheer you up. Feeling inadequate after reading that glossy home design magazine? Those new throw pillows and wall art are bound to up your style points and social standing.
The problem is the shopping high doesn’t last long. Then, the guilt of blowing the budget kicks in.
So what can a person do to cut down on the impulse buy? Here are 4 tips for taming the impulse buying beast.
- The Biggie As Mentioned, Wait 24 Hours-See if you still feel strongly about buying the impulse item. Often times, the buying urge will have died down considerably. The 24 hours away from the bright lights and shiny displays will give you time to truly consider whether the item is needed or will be used more than once, if at all.
- Go to the Store or Online Prepared with a List-If you know what you are shopping for and are on a mission, you are much less likely to stray from the path.
- Avoid Shopping for Fun-According to Psychology Today, people who like to shop for fun are more likely to impulse buy. Makes sense that the more you exposure yourself to the retail environment, the more likely you are to run across tempting items. In bricks and mortar stores, a study shows that when you touch an item on the store shelf, you are much more likely to buy it (Wolf, Arkes & Muhanna).
- Pay Cash Whenever Possible-When you arrive at the store with a set amount of cash in your pocket to pay for purchases, parting with cash for an impulse buy tends to take a little more consideration. The cash only method will definitely give you more pause on the purchase versus the easy get it now and pay later credit card swipe.
While we may not be able to totally stop ourselves from impulse purchases in our consumption driven world, using these 4 suggestions above, can seriously reign in the unintended purchases. The budget and bank account will thank you!
For more money management tips: