One of the biggest challenges I have had on my debt free journey is avoiding impulse purchases. MYJAR.com estimates that, on average, we each spend £144,000 over the course of our lifetime on impulse buys. That’s a house! So getting the habit under control is a must if you want to save money, work less and live better.
Here’s how I’ve learned to become better at avoiding spending triggers that can turn a no-spend-day into a blowout.
1. Leave your credit cards at home
It takes 21 days to form a habit so give yourself the best start by removing the option to spend. Leaving your credit and debit cards at home when you are out, bringing only the minimum cash you need with you, removes the temptation to spend. This is also a great idea for when you are shopping because you have to stay on budget (just make sure you don’t accidentally overspend and have to put things back sheepishly at the till!).
2. Don’t believe everything you see on social media
A lot of what we are exposed to on social media is a carefully curated feed, and many of the ‘real’ images we see are a distortion of reality. But unfortunately this type of marketing manipulates us to re-create these scenes in our own lives, and tricks us into believing if we acquire this bag, those shoes, or that house, our lives will morph into the perceived perfection we are following. You can appreciate these images but remember, they are usually no more than the advertisements you skip past on TV.
3. Apply the 30-day rule
Using 30-day rule means you have to wait 30 days before buying something you see. I guarantee that in most cases, you will completely forget all about what you were lusting after and have moved on within days. Some people pin their potential purchases to a Pinterest board as a reminder, but if this particular item is something you really want, then you won’t forget about it. Give yourself time to figure out if what you want right now is really something worth spending your hard-earned money on.
4. Address your feelings
Many of us are emotional spenders, so spending to elevate your mood doesn’t address the root cause of your feelings, and it’ll only make you feel better for a short time (a high of a few seconds!), before you go back to feeling how you did previously, only this time you now have to pay for the impulse purchase, leaving you in a worse place than you started. Instead, trying figuring out how you are feeling and doing something about that instead. Or, if that’s easier said than done, channel your feelings towards something more productive than spending, like getting active or making a real effort to relax.
5. Avoid passive scrolling
Passively scrolling through web content is a huge reason that many of us spend because shopping is so easily available when we have a free few moments (and even when we don’t, but our phones are in our hand!). How many of us find ourselves scrolling through the New In section when we’re watching TV? If so, try leaving your phone in another room so you need to make a bigger effort to get it if you feel the urge to scroll. Limit your phone time- such a simple thing to say, but so incredibly difficult in this day and age- and make it as hard for yourself to purchase as possible by unsubscribing from promotional emails and don’t autosave your payment details to retailer websites.
6. Beat boredom
If you shop because you’re bored, which so many of us do- now’s the time to take up that hobby you’ve been deferring! Get in shape, or learn to cook, or read that book on you bedside table, or go out for coffee with your friend like you’ve been intending to do forever. Boredom shopping causes nothing but credit card bills!
I hope these tips help you to save a little bit of money, time and energy on your own debt free or savings journey. If you would like to share what has worked for you to avoid impulse shopping, I’d love to hear more below 🙂