Inside: Knowing how to stop impulse buying before you hit the store can give you the motivation to save tons of money. Beat the stores at their own game.
As I pull my heavy cart of groceries into the check out lane, I glance over at the candy rack. There I see a box of my beloved Heath bars. After spending an hour or two deciding whether to buy or not buy each package based on a few dimes difference, I’m tired of making decisions.
That candy bar is calling my name, and it’s just a dollar. Should I buy it? Or not? Does it really make that big a difference?
How to Stop Impulse Buying in Its Tracks
Impulse buying is common in America. According to this source, 54% of us have spent more than $100 on an impulse purchase.
Let’s talk about a few ways of looking at impulse purchases. Keep these in mind before you head out the door. Chances to make impulse buys are everywhere, and we have to be ready for them.
Why Is Impulse Spending Bad?
Have you ever paused to wonder why those small items always sit near the cash register? You probably know that stores look for opportunities to upsell you. It might surprise you that they would have small items that cost $1 or less sitting next to the checkout lane.
But what you consider “just $1” adds up to big dollars for the store. Imagine what it could do for your wallet! You just have to plug the leak to find the savings.
This is one of the reasons we implemented our #yearofno. We ended impulse buys for the most part by deciding that we would automatically say “No” to unnecessary spending.
The popular book Your Money or Your Life talks about making purchases after considering how many hours you worked to pay for that thing. For instance, say you make $25,000 per year. After federal taxes, that’s $21,250. At 40 hours per week, you’re bringing home $10.21 per hour.
So that $1 candy bar took you almost 6 minutes of work.
The cute shirt you found on sale for $20 will take you nearly two hours to work off.
Sometimes, those splurges are worth your time. But don’t let the store decide how important a purchase is to you. That shirt sale might be fantastic! But if you don’t need another shirt right now, don’t grab it because you like the sale. Do you really want to work 2 hours to buy that shirt, only to find it at the bottom of your closet with the tags still on it in a couple of months?
Try this formula to find a very basic price of items based on your own time:
If you’re paid by salary rather than by the hour, use this calculator to determine how many hours you’ll work to buy anything.
That’s your magic number. You’ll work a full hour to buy anything that costs that amount.
What Do I Want Most?
“Discipline is choosing between what you want now and what you want most.” You may have heard this quote, but have you applied it to your life?
If you can’t give yourself a solid reason for skipping the candy bar, you will have a harder time resisting. Even if you succeed in not impulse buying, you probably will feel resentful. Why shouldn’t you have the simple joy of a candy bar? It costs so little, and it tastes so good!
I’m able to skip my moments of chocolate filled happiness because I know that there’s something even sweeter than that chocolate. Instead, I’ll use that money to pay off debt. Not because paying credit card companies makes me happy. But because when we are out of debt, we’ll finally be free to do the things we want most.
When I skip the chocolate bar, it’s because I’m dreaming of a guilt free vacation. Or (more likely) adding a second bathroom to our home.
Hedonic adaptation is an idea I stumbled across that re-framed much of my own spending. It’s the idea that things that our bodies and minds adjust to levels of happiness. For instance, simple joys become boring, and we feel like we need to add more excitement to our lives. Except that we soon adjust to that, too.
I wrote more about that in my post Is It Too Comfortable in Here?
Take These Steps:
- Choose the method above that means the most to you. Practice thinking about your spending using that method.
- If you find it helpful, adopt a saying like “What do I want more than this?” “How long do I have to work for this?” or our favorite… #yearofno.
- Bank your savings.
This was day 17 in the Secure Your Savings and Find Peace in the New Year series. Go to the bottom of this post to find all the money saving and money making posts in this series!
Learn how to resist impulse buying and you’ll be amazed at the savings.
Now you know how to stop impulse spending. Be prepared for the next temptation.
By the way…it turns out that the store knows that I’m tired of making decisions at the checkout lane. That’s why those pesky candy bars are there. Know their game and beat them at it!
What do you do to stop impulse buying?