I might not be good at too much, but saving money is something Im absolutely anal about. My family has taken to calling me Fishhooks, implying I line my pockets with sharp objects in order to resist the urge to reach in and pull out some cold hard cash whenever something at the store catches my eye. The truth is, I just use my head when Im at the mall, and dont let the sales traps get to me. Whenever faced with the prospect of purchasing something, I usually go through at least a few of these thoughts before making my decision:
10 Effective Ways To Avoid Impulse Buying
1. Calculate how much work it would take to pay for the item
This is a big one, and I always get made fun of for it. My wife even anticipates it, and will launch a preemptive mimicry of myself saying Thats like, three and a half hours of work! whenever shes looking at a new dress or something. But really, I look at the items longevity and meaningfulness, and figure out if its worth it or not. For example, when looking for a new PS4 game to buy, if I see a game might take 60-80 hours to complete, that equates to less than a dollar per hour. Totally worth it over time. On the other hand, a two hour movie would cost me around $40 (yes, I would treat my wife, Im not that cheap), or $20 per hour. See the difference?
2. Dont carry all your credit cards
If you have multiple credit cards, and plan on hitting the mall, just take one for emergencies and planned purchases. And check your limit before you go out. That way, you know how much you can spend while still having some left over in case disaster strikes. Theres not much worse than spending a few hours on a shopping trip, only to get a flat tire on the way home and be out $400 instead of $200. Keeping your other credit cards home saves you from spending way too much, and ending up getting in over your head.
3. Dont go therapy shopping
There are so many better ways to ease stress that dont involve spending any money. Shopping when stressed can lead to a vicious cycle: youre stressed, so you buy stuff, then youre stressed because you spent money, so you buy more stuffand it continues. Not that gambling while stressed is something I would ever advocate, but at least there you have a chance of getting some money back! Just kidding. If youre stressed out, try going for a walk or listening to music, but avoid spending money at all costs.
4. Block shopping sites when using your computer
I shouldnt talk, because I have ten other tabs open right now. However, I havent clicked on a single one since I sat down to write this (I know, go me). But really, I remember the college days, in which I would rather have been doing almost anything than sitting down to write ten pages on Chaucer. The internet has made it way too easy to buy buy buy, without thinking about the purchase first. If you need to, block all other sites while youre trying to get work done, and save the shopping spree for another time.
5. Dont go shopping in groups
I know thats pretty counter-intuitive to most shopping trips, but really: When I go shopping with my wife, we almost always end up picking up something we didnt plan for. Im not blaming her, either. Either one of us end up saying Why not? when the other one asks Should I? On the other hand, whenever I go out by myself, I make it a point to buy only what I planned to buy. Not only to I make the plan and stick to it, but having the plan helps me stay focused and ignore other sales going on around me. My wife on the other hand
6. Dont drink and shop
Common sense people! Okay, if youve had a few, common sense might not be your strong suit right now. Dont worry, weve all been there. But just like you should avoid texting your ex at 2AM, you should also avoid Amazon like the plague. Even Fishhooks over here once woke up to see a new computer monitor in his recent purchases, even though he doesnt even use his computer for gaming. Luckily I was able to cancel it, and no harm was done. But I did learn my lesson: Amazon is not a drinking buddy.
7. Put away money you were going to spend
Easier said than done, right? Well, it will pay off in the long run. Add up all the extra stuff youve bought over the past year, then look up prices of trips to Aruba. I definitely know some people who spend more on the former. And even if you dont have enough for a trip to the Caribbean, youll have enough at the end of the year that you can splurge on a few things and not feel bad about it. And you might be able to pay off some of those credit card bills, to boot.
8. Donate to charity
Nothing will make it more clear to you that you dont need another new pair of shoes than seeing someone on the sidewalk who actually does. Sometimes its best to take the money you were about to spend on yourself and give it to someone who truly needs it. If you were going to spend the money anyway, at least put it towards a good cause. Just think: the new gadget or dress you were about to pick up might improve your life a little, but buying a weeks worth of groceries for someone in need can change their life completely.
9. Spend money on others
Like me. My address is
Just kidding. But like I said, if youre going to spend money anyway, spend it on a friend or family member to give thanks. No matter what you get them, it will surely be much more meaningful than whatever you were going to buy for yourself. I like to think that money has no actual value (it helps to think that way when youre broke!), but it can have meaning if spent in a way that will make yourself and others around you happy. Share the wealth, even if you dont have much of it.
10. Spend on experiences, not stuff
Im pretty minimalistic, and Ive said it before that Id rather save money than buy some gizmo or something I wont need in a week. But when it comes to going out with my wife, I spare no expense. Id rather go without money in my wallet for a week and give her a nice night on the town than save and miss an opportunity we might not get tomorrow. Of course, we set limits, but you cant put a price tag on a good time. So, even though this entire article has been about saving money, I guess I should wrap it up with: Dont get married. Just kidding! It was the smartest thing I ever did. Save your money, so you can have a life with someone you love.