Oh, the impulse to buy — so hard to resist. And apparently the majority of us don’t. According to a recent Bank of Montreal survey, 59 per cent of people admitted to impulse shopping, done mostly to cheer themselves up. If you frequently make unplanned purchases and want to break the cycle, read on for some tips to gain control of your spending:
DO — Leave the dough at home. Credit and debit cards can stay at home if you’re out and about — they’ll be fine without you. Carrying a limited amount of money will make it a lot harder to spend. If you find that even on an afternoon stroll you burn through the cash in your pocket (quick trip for an unnecessary coffee, grabbing an extra magazine, etc.), then start leaving your cash at home too.
DON’T — Be pressured by a sale. Just because an item is on sale doesn’t mean you have to have it right then and there, even if it’s something you use. If you’re unsure then walk away and give it 24 hours.
DO — Make shopping lists and stick to them. Simple, right? If you frequently shop without a list try using one and see how much less you bring home.
DON’T— Buy to make yourself feel better. This one often lands people in a vicious cycle. The initial pick-me-up is usually replaced by guilt when you realize that you didn’t need or couldn’t afford the purchase.
DO — Focus on needs instead of wants. It can be difficult to stick to your guns when you see things you want that everyone else seems to have. To break the cycle of emotional spending, keep your eye on the prize, and your budget.
DON’T — Get sucked in by store credit cards. Yes, you may get an initial discount on your purchases but you’ll likely buy more than you intended. And store cards often carry a very high interest rate so you’ll be paying more for your items for longer.
DO — Take a closer look. Try to pinpoint where the desire to shop is coming from. Is it something you do when you’re feeling sad or when you’re rewarding yourself? If you can find the source and address it, you’ll have an easier time adjusting your routine.
DON’T — Be afraid to ask for help. If you’re really struggling, confide in trusted friends or family members. See if you can’t buddy-up to help keep on track when you’re out making planned purchases, like grocery shopping. If past overspending has now overextended your credit to the point that you’re unable to meet your obligations, speak to a financial advisor or licensed trustee.
We’re shelling out an annual average of $3,720 on impulse buying that could be put to better, guilt-free use. With Canadians’ savings at a worrying low and debt-to-income ratio at an all-time high, kicking the impulse shopping habit is definitely a step in the right direction. We work hard for our money, after all!