Financial stability can easily be in jeopardy as a result of shopping. Maybe not overnight, but years of overspending on unnecessary expenses and impulse purchases can lead to maxed out credit cards, paying interest without decreasing balances, and leaving nothing to show for in savings accounts. Bad shopping habits can be tough to break, especially if you are used to a certain lifestyle, but finding ways to avoid impulse purchases is a needed adjustment.
Stick to a Shopping List
You have heard the old bit a million times about going into a grocery store for milk and eggs and coming out with bags, way overspending what you had planned. The same goes in all types of shopping. If you go in with your head down and buy only from your list, you will avoid any unnecessary spending and have a successful shopping trip, not going over budget, which is the most important part.
Think About Making the Purchase First
I used to be bad going into Best Buy, buying what was on sale, and back when CD’s and DVD’s were actually popular, I would always walk out with something. Now that I have boxes of useless discs, I can only pass on my knowledge about wanting to make a purchase: wait. If you think you want to make a purchase, go home and think about it for days, even a week, and if you still really need the item, and can afford it, then proceed.
Keep the Plastic in Your Wallet
When you have a wad of cash in your hand, you feel the amount of money, and by only using cash, you will be much more savvy about your purchases. Credit Cards and especially PayPal feels like play money trading back and forth, and you often lose that connection to the money that you worked hard to earn to quickly throw away.
Compare Prices at Many Different Sources
It goes without saying, but you should not buy the first product you see because you could have significant savings by shopping around. With so much competition these days between retailers, both in store and online, you are bound to save even by comparing two and three other stores or websites, many offering free shipping.
Head Out Alone
These days I try to avoid impulse purchases so much that I even talk myself out of buying things (I needed a new laptop for five years and that I just now finally pulled the trigger on one). Sometimes when you shop with others you want to give the impression that you are able to afford more than you can and will make unneeded purchases, so going alone you can take your time and carefully decide, just hopefully sooner than I do.
Remember Shopping Should Not Be Fun
No matter how much shopping is said to cure the winter blues, it should not be fun, a hobby, or a sport, even if you are great at it. If you turn spending money into entertainment, it can be easy to get used to and soon enough you will find yourself in a mountain of debt, much like I did in my early 20’s and took years to finally pay off.
Limit Spending Splurging
It is almost impossible to stick to only the necessary spending month after month, after all, you should reward yourself once in a while if you are staying on the right track and avoiding impulse purchases. After all, there needs to be a compromise between life experiences and money just sitting in the bank, so limit spending splurging to maybe going out once a month instead of every weekend.
Share the Burden of Bills
Whether you are married or not, you should not shoulder the entire burden of expenses. Spouses should be kept into the loop and on the same page when it comes to all money coming in and going out. If I did all of the shopping and paid the bills myself, my wife would be completely in the dark with the finances and could not step in to help. Trusted friends and family should be able to offer advice.
The Household Budget Takes Priority
We can talk on and on about avoiding impulse purchases, but in the end, you are only hurting yourself if you continue to fall short on the household budget, affecting any future income you will depend on during retirement. Life should be fun, but sticking to a budget can help to have a game plan for all expenses and saving.