Hello, my name is Joanna, and I’m an impulsive buyer.
From high school to the day I married Johnny, I was a bit obsessed with clothes. I pored over my favorite brands’ magazines on a daily basis. I’d play this game where I’d pretend I could pick, say, 10 items from the magazine to buy, no matter the price. This game usually resulted in my finding at least one item that I was certain I couldn’t live without. There will never be a shirt this cute ever again. I have to have it now!! The items were rarely on sale and usually quite pricey, and — oh yeah — I was never financially fit to buy said items.
And so, like a responsible teen/young adult, I closed the magazine, threw it in the trash, and washed my hands of it. Not really. Instead, I’d scheme up some plan to get the money for my must-have fashion piece. My methods including emptying my bank account of every cent to my name or begging my parents. There was no waiting a week, or even a day, for thecutestshirteverknowntoman. I needed it and I needed it now. I was an impulsive buyer.
Well, am. Once impulsive, always impulsive. But you can get better at controlling yourself. And I have gotten better, with some help from Johnny who is much less impulsive than I am (though still impulsive with certain items, like concert tickets). I think we’ve all got a bit of the impulsive buyer in us. So here are a few tips that have helped Johnny and me to curb our tendencies to buy impulsively.
When Johnny and I have a purpose for our money, it’s much easier to avoid those impulsive temptations. Right now we have a goal of how much we want to save each month. And we have an end goal of how much we’d like to have saved two years from now. It’s easy to justify an impulsive purchase by thinking What’s $100 over the course of a whole year’s expenses? Practically nothing! But 100 unaccounted for dollars means we miss our monthly goal. And if we let that happen very often, our two-year goal will no longer be possible. It’s a wonderful, vicious mental cycle that helps keep us on track.
I can’t believe I’m recommending this tip because I hate it, but it works for some people. When Johnny or I am contemplating an impulsive purchase, Johnny always calculates it in terms of hours worked. “Is that $50 pillow really worth a few hours of work?” he says to me. I really don’t like going down that road because the answer is almost always a dejected, “Probably not,” you fun ruiner. The second part I grumble under my breath. I don’t like this method, but Johnny loves it and swears by it. And so I tolerate it.
Now this is a tip I can get behind. It has solved all of my impulsive-clothing-buying woes. I still get those butterflies in my stomach and that excited I HAVE TO HAVE THIS screaming in my head when I see cute clothes online. I don’t have enough control to keep from putting items in an online cart. But I’ve gained just enough control not to push the “Buy” button. Without fail, if I sleep on a potential clothing purchase, that “must-have” feeling almost completely dissipates when I wake up the next morning.
Something else that has really helped my impulsiveness is having Johnny to go to for advice. And I think he feels the same way about me. We oftentimes ask each other, “Should I get it?” And the other person is able to be much more objective about the purchase. We usually let each other down easy with, “Well, we weren’t really planning on spending that kind of money right now.” But sometimes we do say, “YES. You have to get that. It looks soooo good on you.” Okay, that’s my response. Johnny’s more like, “Sure.” If you don’t have a budget-minded spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, or friend you can trust, do not ask your shopping buddy. They will always say, “Yes!”
Maybe we harp on budgeting too often. Okay, we definitely do. Ack! But keeping an itemized budget has meant the world when it comes to us avoiding the pit of impulse buying. Knowing that I’m going to have to enter my impulsive buy into our budget puts the brakes on my purchase every time. The thought of blowing a budget we’re trying so hard to stick to is a pretty sickening one. And there aren’t many clothes out there cute enough to tempt me.
A final thought: Buying something impulsively is a-okay if you have a place in your budget for it. If the money’s in your budget, there’s nothing more fun than spontaneously buying some gotta-have item. This happens to me on a small scale every time I see a cupcake/pastry/doughnut shop. Did I mention I also have a sweet tooth?
So you now know two of my vices: impulsive buying and sugar. If you suffer from impulsive buying (and/or sugar consumption), how do you avoid it?