You’re in the best mood. You just found out you’re getting promoted, one of your friends reached out with some great news, and you had an amazing date with your partner last night. Nothing would feel better than heading to your favorite store for a shopping spree.
You’re in the worst mood. The project you worked on for weeks got rejected by a client, you fought with your parents, and you’ve had to maintain your busy schedule today despite a horrible night of sleep. It’s time to distract yourself – maybe a new pair of shoes will help.
Impulse buying is all too familiar for most of us. Whether we’re feeling excited, angry, desperate, bored, tired, or any other host of emotions, pulling out our credit cards or handing over our cash to purchase something on a whim seems to be a common response to many of our emotions.
But controlling your spending can be an insightful and pleasant process, so long as you are willing to hold yourself accountable and keep an open mind. Consider the following tips to help you reign in your impulse buying.
Find the Patterns and Re-Train Your Mind
Often, patterns exist between our spending and our feelings that we may not recognize. Sure, you may be well aware that you tend to spend more money when you’re angry, but there’s more to the story than that.
Think about the impulse purchases you have made in the last month. What stores did you go to? What items did you buy? How much did you spend? Next, try to go back in time and put yourself in the mindset you had when purchasing those items.
By taking the time to analyze each purchase and the motivations behind it, you’ll find out more about yourself than you thought you could. For example, if you’re feeling angry after getting into a fight with your partner, you may be more likely to impulsively purchase clothing and expensive jewelry as a way to remind yourself of your value.
If you’re angry because of a difficult work situation, maybe you’re more likely to spend on expensive dinners and drinks to distract yourself. That $200 bottle of wine is your way of recognizing the hard work that your boss isn’t realizing.
Once you understand the specifics of your feelings, you can talk yourself out of making impulsive purchases. The next time you are about to spend hundreds of dollars on clothing because you’re angry, you will be able to recognize that it is a reactive mechanism.
Instead, focus on another task that will address your feelings without spending money. If you’re feeling undervalued, make a list of all of the assets you bring to the table. Or talk to someone who loves you and will remind you of your strengths.
Incentivize Yourself to Save
Maybe it’s a trip to Spain. It could be that convertible you’ve been in love with since you were a teenager. Whatever it is, we all have that one time or experience we’ve thought about for years but never have followed through with purchasing because of its costs.
Use those feelings of longing to set your mind on the right track when it goes down the path of wanting to make an impulse purchase. There are a few tricks you can use to continually incentivize saving money:
Set Daily Reminders
After you’ve analyzed your spending habits, take a look at the times of day and parts of your week you usually are spending the most money. After work and on the weekends are likely your biggest culprits.
Set reminders at the same time each day (and maybe more on the weekend) that tell your brain why you’re saving your money. Over time, your brain will start to remind itself of your longer-term goals when you are about to make an impulse purchase.
Change Your Lock Screen
The same thinking applies to this tip. A study of Canadian smartphone owners revealed that they pick up their phones over 100 times a day. Break this number down further, and that’s once every 10 minutes.
That means that you could be motivating yourself once every 10 minutes to save your money without making any changes to your current lifestyle. All you have to do is change your lock screen to a picture of that long-term goal.
Write a Letter to Yourself
Sometimes, the best thing do to is put all of your feelings on paper. Writing down all of the reasons why you want to save your money for this particular item or experience is a great idea because you will be able to store all of your thoughts in one convenient place.
When you find yourself struggling to reign in recent impulse purchases, pull out this letter and read it out loud to yourself. For even more impact, look at yourself in the mirror while you read it. It will feel like you’re committing to this goal to another person, which may help you become more accountable.
Make a Monthly Budget
On average, Canadians have over $70,000 of debt. With rising mortgage prices, students loans, and unexpected emergencies, the last thing you want is problems with impulse spending to contribute to your list of expenses.
Many of us avoid making a budget because it may feel like we’re limiting ourselves. Tracking our spending and staying within the confines of the numbers we’ve set for ourselves? At first, it may seem like you’re depriving yourself.
What a budget does, though, is emotionally reward you. After setting and sticking to a budget, you may find that your impulse spending decreases because you are happy to uphold this new responsibility:
Makes You Feel in Control
First, a budget makes you feel in control of your life. If one of your main reasons for impulse spending is to feel more in control, then setting a budget will accomplish the same goal for you in a much healthier way.
Setting a budget means analyzing your spending habits and choosing the ones you want to keep and eliminate. You’ll find lots of extra little costs, like your daily coffee run, that feel good to stop buying.
Makes You Feel Free
Impulse purchases often happen so quickly that you may not notice what’s happening. After, it may not even feel like it was your decision. Over time, this will add up – pretty soon, you won’t have extra money to go out for a spontaneous dinner with friends or pay for an unexpected cost.
Budgets, on the other hand, require careful planning and thoughtfulness. This means that you include a contingency budget in your monthly spending allocations that will allow you to occasionally treat yourself without fearing you can’t afford it.
Makes You Feel More Successful
In the beginning, following a budget will be difficult. Over time, though, you’ll adjust to the terms you set for yourself.
You’ll start to see your savings increase instead of decrease. You’ll notice that when you do purchase something, it will be that much more meaningful. Even though the amount of money you are earning may not change, you’ll feel more successful because it will truly feel like your wealth.
Show Yourself Compassion After Impulse Buying
No matter how guilty or angry with yourself you may feel after making an impulse purchase, do your best to show yourself some compassion.
You’re not the only one who has spent money without thinking it through – 84% of shoppers have made an impulse purchase, if not more. This means that the vast majority of your friends and family members have spent their hard-earned money without considering the consequences.
And if a friend opened up to you about having trouble with impulse buying, what would you say? Probably something encouraging, right?
Talk to yourself the same way that you would talk to a friend you love, and you’ll find yourself feeling much better. After you have forgiven yourself for your actions, you can start to become more accountable. It’s a lot more difficult to solve problems when you have residual negative feelings clouding over your thinking.
No Better Time to Start Than Today
Controlling your impulse buying doesn’t have to be an impossible feat. By tracking your patterns, making a budget, incentivizing yourself to save, and showing yourself compassion, you’re already on the right track to better financial decisions.
When changing our habits, it’s easy to tell ourselves that we’ll start tomorrow, or next week, or at the end of the month. But when it comes to your spending, the best time to start is today.
Get a fast and easy loan to help you begin the process of regaining your financial confidence. Soon enough, your bank account will reflect all of your hard work!