Tips to curb your impulse spending

30 July 2009

Buyer's remorse is something we've all experienced in life. It may come in the form of waking up on a Sunday afternoon in a stranger's house with no recollection of the evening past. Or a poor attempt at explaining to your children about how spending their allowance now would mean they won't have it to spend later.

But it's sometimes harder to apply that logic to ourselves. We therefore have to put all hope on these five tips that claim to help us psychologically combat with impulse spending:

1. The generous stranger. Weblog Five Cent Nickel comes to the rescue with the following tip for curbing impulse purchases:

“When considering a purchase, picture a stranger offering you [the cash value of the purchase] or the item in question. Which is of greater value [to] you? Which would you choose?”

In situations where you find yourself tempted more by the cash than the purchase, you can probably wait, and vice versa. The reasoning is simple; if you have the cash equivalent of the product, you have the flexibility to purchase it at some later time, which means there is no urgency. The idea is therefore a thought interruption to break impulse purchase habits and help you see the situation more clearly.

2. Work hour equivalent. When faced with purchasing an item, ask yourself: how many hours of work would it take you to pay for say item at your current rate of pay? Converting your work hours into the price of the game/DVD/handbag you are interested in could help evaluate the cost/benefit of your purchase a bit more realistically.

3. £100 / day keeps the consumer away. Wait one day for every £100 the prospective item costs, as discussed before. Of course, you can scale this up or down according to your income.

4. Talking to your spouse about it. Imagine explaining the purchase to your spouse or significant other. How would it feel saying,"This awesome T-Rex wall sculpture was on sale for only £999!"? Bargain.

5. Switching on your logical brain. You lived without it just fine yesterday. So ask: can you can live without it just fine tomorrow? This shifts your thinking from an emotional purchase to a more logical one, to really look at how the item is actually going to contribute to your life.Is there a point in actually buying it?

We all have our own coping mechanisms for spending money instead of paying off debt, and make our own rationalisations. The idea is not to institute a personal policy of soul-crushing self denial, but rather to give yourself the time to at least consider the options before impulse purchases that will leave you with buyer's remorse.


  • Ian
    Some good tips here. My PS3, HDTV were all impulse purchases, so I need to step back.
  • Mark H.
    ...must curb impulse purchases....BUY KOLO TOURE! NOW!
  • Tom P.
    Good tips......mental note....must follow tips, must follow tips, must follow tits
  • arsene w.
    must make money and not spend AGAIN
  • Gus
    Don't visit hotukdeals everyday...
  • Steve
    As above lol. That place is dangerous indeed
  • Lumoruk
    shooting yourself in the foot surely bitterwallet?
  • Durka D.
    When my buyers remorse kicks in - I hotfoot it to fleabay. Often amazed at how I get all my money back again.
  • Impulse e.
    [...] These five pointers are well worth heeding. They surely offer a stern stress test when salivating in-store. [...]

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