How To Talk Yourself Out Of That Impulse Buy
Are you a shopping addict? I know I have some addictive tendencies when it comes to the retail world. And like many addictions, I believe this one was genetic. My mom has always loved to shop, and she got me on that train. Special daughter/mother time usually involved shopping and my mom was a pro at talking herself into buying something. Of course, it didn’t hurt that she had access to my dad’s very large credit line. She also didn’t work for a living, so she never really understood the value of a dollar. She never felt her hard-earned money going away when she bought that dress or those shoes. It was somebody else’s money, and she had no idea what went into acquiring it. Unfortunately, she didn’t realize that A) she was passing on these habits to me and B) I wouldn’t be in the same comfy financial situation she was in as an adult. So I’ve had to learn ways to talk myself out of impulse buys.
Don’t go in the store to begin with
Just not going into stores has helped me tremendously. I used to love to “window shop” or “just look around for fun,” as I’d put it. But that was never what happened. The second I entered the store, something took over me. It was a rush of adrenaline. All of my reasoning and logic went out the window. It was as if I was possessed by something. Simply not going into stores is a huge help.
How many hours of work is that?
Now I understand that sometimes, you have to go into a store for something you need, but that’s where the trouble begins. You leave with much more than you went in there for. So each time you want to buy something, ask yourself how many hours you’d have to work in order to pay it off. It really changes your perspective when you realize that you’d have to work for four hours to pay something off. That’s half a workday. Is that handbag worth half a workday to you?
Thirty minutes, that is. Go for a walk. Call a friend. Get a coffee. See if you still feel compelled to buy that item thirty minutes later. It’s amazing how that urge can go away when you’re no longer holding or looking at the thing.
How much gas is that?
Experiences are worth so much more than things. So, ask yourself this: how much gas would the price of this item buy me? Is it a full tank? That’s a little road trip! Do I really want to trade a road trip for this blouse? Or a night in a cute little hotel?
How many margaritas is that?
Time with friends is much more valuable than things, too. So, you can either afford to buy this item, or enjoy dinner out with your friends this weekend. What will it be? Do you want to get those jeans, and then restrict yourself to salad and water at dinner with friends?
What was your last impulse buy?
Consider the last thing you bought on a whim. How’s that thing doing? Are you using it? Has it changed your life? Do you take joy in it, every day? Probably no, no, and no. So this new item will have the same fate.
What did you recently donate?
Now think of the last batch of items you donated. Think of the stories behind each of those items. Many of them were likely impulse buys. You thought you had to have them, and now you literally just dropped them off in trash bags at a thrift store.
This is faux wish fulfillment
This item is playing tricks on your brain. You’re envisioning yourself at the theater in that dress, or on a hot date with your man in those shoes. Guess what? You don’t need those items to have those experiences. You can just go have those experiences.
Could you pay something off instead?
Do you have any outstanding balances that you should perhaps put this money towards? A credit card bill? Student loan? Car loan? Late rent? Utility bill?
Or put that money down?
Or rather than pay something off with that money, could you put it down on something? Like a home or a car or a new laptop that would benefit your career?
What’s this really about?
A lot of times, when we impulse shop, we are just trying to fill a void. So, what’s up? Do you feel listless in your love life? Restless in your career? Unsatisfied with your social life? Get to the root of this feeling, or you’ll just keep buying stuff and you won’t feel any better.
Call your sponsor
I have one—a fellow shopping addict. Well, a recovered one. I call her and ask her to tell me why I don’t need this zebra print pencil skirt I’m staring at and she’s ready with answers.
Stare at your checking account
Just really look at it. Are you happy with it? Do you feel that it could weather several expensive emergencies, get you through this upcoming wedding season, and fund that vacation you hope to take? Now, do you still want to make a dent in it, all for some boots?
Consider the retail profit
Think about how much the manufacturer of those shoes paid to make them (maybe a couple of dollars) and how much they’re selling them for (maybe a couple of hundred dollars). Now you’re just mad, huh?
If all else fails, put it on hold
If you’re really struggling, just put the item on hold. Appease your little addict brain, so it knows the item isn’t going anywhere for now. Go home. Live your life. You’ll probably forget about it.