The enemy of the budget is impulse buying. We all do it. Some more than others. We convince ourselves in the moment that we “need” something. Or maybe that this deal is just too good to pass up.
We justify buying something for which we have not set aside funds or for which we have not planned. In the end, we give into temptation and and just like that, impulse buying blindsides our budget. And if left unchecked can bring our financial stability crashing down around our heads.
If impulse buying has been undermining your budget, here are 5 tips to help you practice more discipline and resist temptation.
How to Stop Impulse Buying From Blindsiding Your Budget
1. Embrace accountability.
We all need a little help sometimes. If you’re married, your spouse should be your #1 accountability partner, although it is certainly acceptable to have more than one.
If you’re single, you should ask someone with whom you trust to share your finances and also someone who can encourage you and who will speak truth into your situation.
In order for this to work, you have to be totally transparent and completely honest. You also have to be willing to accept the truth and most importantly, act on it.
2. Have a monthly vision meeting.
If you’re married, this should be a time that you and your spouse should set aside to revisit your goals and get back on the same page. It will help you renew your purpose and encourage you to stay on course.
If you’re single, you can do this alone or better yet, with your accountability partner.
3. Budget in some blow money.
Make sure you’re setting aside a specified amount each week or month that’s just for spending. Having some money that you can “play” with, even if it’s a small amount, will help you feel like you’re not tied down by your budget and you’ll be less likely to splurge in the moment.
The amount may fluctuate according to where you’re at in achieving your goals. For example, if I’m just beginning the journey to become debt free, the budget may only allow me to set aside $25 per month for extra spending.
Once I am out of debt, maybe the budget will give me the freedom to set aside $25 per week. Your income, expenditures and short, mid and long term goals should drive this figure.
4. Determine wants from needs.
Make a list of each. If an item truly is a need, make sure you plan it into your budget. Keep a wish list of wants in order of priority. Purchase your wants only when making the purchase will not set you back on your existing budget goals or when you can do it with money set aside for spending.
If you’re married, you and your spouse may each have a list of personal wants and another list for joint wants. You may use your personal spending money to acquire the smaller wants, however, for bigger ticket items you’ll need to decide what you want to pursue first when your budget allows.
For example, I have a want list that involves things to be done inside the house, and my husband has things he wants to do outside. For the last few years, we have saved and saved to replace the flooring, paint walls and buy new furniture. This is the year! After that, we’ll save and save again so that we can build a deck, put in a driveway and do a few other things my husband has been desiring for the outside.
By determining our wants vs. needs, meeting regularly to discuss our goals and desires and embracing accountability with one another, we feel like we are on track. We’re moving forward together and we are less likes to make impulse purchases.
5. Set boundaries for purchases.
These boundaries should include both a time frame and a monetary amount. For example:
- Must wait one day to make any purchase more than $25 but less than $50 that wasn’t planned for.
- Must wait one week before making a purchase over $50 that wasn’t already figured into that month’s purchases.
If impulsive spending is habitual, one of your boundaries may even include consulting with your accountability partner before making ANY unplanned purchases outside of your blow money.
Boundaries give us a little space to rethink the situation, which allows the moment of insanity to pass and levelheadedness to return.
Our human desires, accompanied by the forces of advertising and marketing are powerful, but they can be overcome and we can be successful in achieving our budget goals by applying these simple strategies.