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According to research conducted in 2016, 54% of Britons admit to making an impulse purchase every time they go shopping. Impulse buying is a big problem that results in many losing control of their financial affairs and failing to stick to their budget. Consumers impulse buy both in-store and online, with in-store customers being more susceptible to impulse purchases. Retailers have accumulated their own data and design their stores to encourage buying on impulse; the more this happens, the greater the profits for them. What can we do to eradicate impulse purchases from our monthly expenditure? I have listed some very effective ways below.
Keep a Budget
Once you have identified your financial goals, the best method to move forward towards achieving your goals is to keep a monthly budget. If you have not already set up a budget, this post will help you, How to Create a Budget That you can Stick To. Budgets make you become more intentional about all of your expenditure and leave little room for impulse buys. Ensure that you look at your budget frequently; be disciplined and you should be able to resist impulse purchases.
Follow a Cash Budget
One step up from a regular monthly budget is a cash budget, following a cash budget will give you further daily reminders of what you intend your cash to be used for. Resist the temptation to take from one of your envelopes to fund an impulse purchase. Stay focused.
Keep a Spending Diary
For a period of a month, write down every purchase you make, there is no need to include bills. Be accurate and include morning coffees and snacks etc. After the month is over analyse your spending to identify any weak areas. Are there regular times when you are more prone to impulse buys? Is it when you are bored? Have you looked around shops during your lunch hour and succumbed to a purchase?
Work out Why you Impulse Buy
What are the circumstances that lead to impulse purchases in your life? Is it when you are feeling a bit low? Or lonely? When you have received some bad news? Or had a particularly tough day at work? Perhaps after you’ve had an argument with your partner? Only you will know the answers to these questions. If you need to talk to someone confidentially about the amount of impulse purchases you are making you can contact The National Debtline or Citizens Advice. Click on the words to be taken to their websites.
Make a List Before you Shop
Make a list of items that you intend to buy before shopping online or in-store. Use retailers websites to get a good understanding of where you can buy the items you need and the best prices for those items. If you can purchase cheaply online, do so. For some items, fruit and vegetables are a good example, it may make sense to visit a store and then make you planned purchases. Having a physical list will help keep you on track and avoid impulse buys .
Introduce a 48 Hour Rule
If you spot something that you would like to buy, but it is not a planned purchase, force yourself to wait 48 hours before purchasing it. This is assuming that you can afford to buy the item and will not have to use money that is already allocated for something else. The self imposed 48 hour ‘cooling off ‘period will allow you time to think about whether you really should make the purchase. Take the time to think about whether you need or only want the purchase. Realistically how much would you use the new item?
Don’t Set up One Click Ordering
Do not set up one click ordering on websites, websites offer this convenience because they know that it will result in more sales for them and increased profits. We have all been in the situation where we are about to leave a website and are then presented with a ‘special offer’ that we can order with one click. This ‘convenience’ can prove very inconvenient when it comes time to reconcile our budget.
Do Not Browse
Do not browse in shopping centres or on retailer websites, only visit if you have something specific to buy. This simple step will cut down the amount of temptation that you face.
Do not Routinely Carry all of Your Credit cards
Carrying all of your credit cards in your wallet or purse every day increases the chance that you will make an impulse buy. This is because the increased access to funds can prove a very strong temptation to many. Leaving them at home in a safe place is much better approach if you are trying to curb impulse purchases.
Convert Your Potential Purchase into Hours of Work
Think about how long it takes to earn enough money to purchase the item, if you earn £30 per hour and you are considering a new pair of shoes for £150 consider whether they are really worth 5 hours of work. How many pairs of shoes have you got already? If your money is limited, also consider the opportunity cost of the shoes. In other words, what will you have to sacrifice in order to be able to buy the shoes.
You don’t have to implement all of these methods to eradicate impulse purchases. Think of this list as a menu and pick those tactics that will be most effective for you.
Monitor your own progress in the weeks ahead. Do you have a problem with impulse buying? Let me know in the comments section below.
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My aim with each blog post is to help you move to a better financial future. I believe that there is not enough financial education in the national curriculum and I intend to share anything helpful that I have learned along the way. I am by no means a financial expert. None of the information on this website constitutes financial advice and is provided as general information only. This is my personal finance blog; my marketing blog is over here and I have been blogging there since 2010. I hope you have found this information useful. Thank you for reading.