Children offer us an unfiltered look at how our brains react to sales and marketing. When they see something that strikes their fancy, they want it right then. Toddlers, especially, show little patience or consideration for the cost or longevity of the item they desire. Yet, should their whimsy be indulged, the thing they “needed” at the store often gets discarded in short order.
But we’re adults. We have outgrown the ability for marketing and sales pitches to influence our in-the-moment purchase decisions. I mean, I definitely don’t have a stack of books I still haven’t read. And I am definitely going to put together that 3,000-piece Sistine Chapel puzzle. It has only been sitting in my closet for the better part of two decades.
Fortunately, there are strategies to help guard against impulse purchases and keep you from depleting funds better saved or spent elsewhere. Here are three ways to help you curb your impulse expenses.
- Put a hard limit on your “fun money” budget. Whether it means creating a specific debit account, a prepaid card, or pulling out cash, find a way to cap your entertainment expenses to a particular amount. Make sure the plan you use does not allow for overdrafts or negative balances. Having a definitive end to the money can help bolster your mental fortitude against potentially unnecessary purchases.
- Take action on your impulse without actually spending money. The psychology behind marketing to consumers is to present items in such a way as to make them immediately desirable and push the shopper to take action now (yes, even in online stores). But it is possible to redirect that action to purchase something by writing it down or saving it to a “to purchase later” list. Without the cleverly designed environmental pressure, you will likely find you can quickly eliminate a majority of the items as too expensive or not as useful as you had initially thought.
- Buy used whenever possible. Now that you have eliminated the majority of your impulse expenses, you have the opportunity to approach the items that still make sense logically. But, knowing you can take your time will help you research better options and even locate less expensive or used versions.
Adults often fall victim to the same traps as children when it comes to the desire to make impulse purchases. Fortunately, it is possible to use a mixture of logic and redirection to help keep our hard-earned money in our pocket.