How to Stop Impulse Spending

Here’s the scenario. You’re at the mall, just browsing. You see a fantastic pair of red heels. They’d look fabulous with the new dress you bought last week. Nevermind that you already have a pair of shoes to go with that dress. Your mind is crying out at you to buy the shoes. You’ve always wanted red heels…

What do you do?

Maybe you’re not a red heels kind of person. Maybe your thing is books (that’s mine), music, DVDs. It doesn’t matter. The temptation to spend impulsively is all around us. But if you’re serious about saving money and living more frugally, you need to learn to curb the impulsive spending.

Tips to Help You Stop Spending

1. Apply the 7 day wait rule. When you come across something you want to buy, write it down. Put the note in a safe place and wait 7 days. If you still want the item after a week, go ahead and buy it. Most of the time, the desire to buy will pass, and you will find a way to live without it.

2. Stay out of the stores. Don’t browse. I avoid bookstores at all costs, because books are my weak spot. I love the smell of new books. I love the information inside. I have a hard time walking out of a bookstore without a new book. So I don’t go. I hit the library instead.

3. Make a list and stick to it. Do you absolutely have to go to the mall? Then write down exactly what you’re looking for. If you’re there to find jeans and a sweater, write it down. Make a firm rule to stick to your list. That way when you see those red heels, you can look at your list and be reminded that you’re not buying shoes today.

4. Reward yourself for not spending. When you’re standing in front of the red heels, take a look at how much they cost. Walk away, go directly to your bank, and transfer that dollar amount into a special reward savings account. Seeing how quickly that money adds up can be the best deterrent against overspending. Save for a goal: a fully funded emergency fund, a vacation, whatever you like. You’ll be happy when you get there.

How do you curb the desire to overspend?

10 thoughts on “How to Stop Impulse Spending”

  1. Back when I was a poor college student my friends and I would go to the mall together with the agreement that we would enjoy ourselves without buying anything except a snack. It worked, we saved money. They were the no shop shopping trips. I think it helps when you have a friend there to hold you back from being tempted by impulse buys or sales especieally if the friend is also on a tight budget.

  2. My usual rule with impulse spending is to wait at least 24 hours. I should extend the wait though. It would help me curb it even more. My other general rule is to try to not spend any money at all each day. I love the days I go without digging out dollars and cents out of my purse. I get so proud of myself on those days.

  3. I use the 30-day-list. Whenever I see something I HAVE to have but dont really need) I write it down in a file and wait one month. I have never once bought something I wrote down, since during the 30 days I always come up with something I already own that I can repurpose… I think I read about the 30-day-list at Zen Habits a while ago.

  4. I just wanted to say, on a totally random tagent, that I own those ribbon-y red shoes in the picture, but in black.

    My best way not to overspend? To think how much I’ll use it. If it’s something that just looks pretty, I most likely won’t use it very often. I do have my weaknesses, though. Like pretty shoes. (For example, I don’t think I’ve ever worn previously mentioned pair of shoes.)

  5. The best thing is to stay out of the mall and avoid high-priced temptation. Go to Goodwill, a different charity shop or a consignment shop instead. (In my area, Goodwills frequently run half-price sales on clothes and other items-which means slacks and tops for around $3.00 each-many of them quite nice). Try to find charity-based thrift shops in or near expensive neighborhoods. Some of the clothes there were originally pricey, some have not even been worn. These places often have wonderful stuff for dirt cheap. They also have lots of books at Goodwill! A splurge there is a lot less damaging than at the mall!

  6. This post was meant for me! I do have a mild slash full blown case of SHOPOHOLISM. Except, I usually don’t buy anything unless I have the money in my checking account. So if I think I can make the purchase and still have enough to pay bills and have a good time, I go ahead with it. This hurts with my bigger purchases, i.e, the Wii. Well above the bi-weekly budget I set for myself and so I find myself avoiding stores until I get my next paycheck.

    Also, for your bibliophilia, may I suggest the library. They aren’t new and they don’t smell as good, but you can get the information part without hurting your wallet.

  7. When I’m in the shopping mood or have something I need to buy but I’m afraid I’ll overspend if I go to the store, I check Amazon first. I use my SwagBucks to redeem Amazon gift cards and I always try to keep at least $25 in gift cards in my Amazon account at all times (the min. for free shipping) so I can buy when I need something.

  8. Whenever I really, really, really want to shop, I go onto our library website and order books like crazy. Wonderful solution, and it seems you do the same thing. :)

    Annie Kate

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