Shopping is a fun experience for most people and even small purchases throughout the day can boost your spirits. But impulse purchases can have a negative effect on your pocketbook and might be costing you more money than you’d expect. If you’re guilty of being a serial impulse purchaser, eliminate the habit by employing these three tactics.
Figure out where you impulse buy most
Before you can even start thinking about creating a new budget, you need to understand what you’re spending most of your money on every month. Apps like Mint or YNAB can assist you with this process. Once you see where that money goes, any problematic spending habits will become more apparent—what you thought was a harmless latte habit could be costing you hundreds of dollars a month. Once you see where you’re making the most unnecessary purchases, give yourself a limited budget on how much you can spend each month in that category and stick to it.
Think about what else you could do with the money you’re about to spend
That new golf bag in your local sports store is just calling your name—but is it really worth spending a cool $200 on? Instead of tossing it in your cart and hoping for the best, think about what else $200 could pay for: The family’s cell phone bill for the month, two tickets to that Broadway show that’s coming into town, or a week’s worth of groceries. Puts things into perspective, doesn’t it?
Calculate the cost per use
Sometimes it becomes more difficult to determine what is a worthwhile purchase and what is not, especially with big-ticket items. That’s where calculating the cost per use comes in. By taking the price and dividing it by the number of times you’re realistically going to use it, it becomes easier to determine what is a good investment and what is not.
For example, if your family eats waffles every single Sunday of the year, and you’re thinking about buying a $100 waffle iron rather than dishing out Eggo’s all the time, calculate the cost per use: Divide $100 by the 52 weeks in a year and you have a cost per use of $1.92—and if that waffle iron lasts beyond a year, the cost decreases even more.
Of course there are some situations where calculating cost per use doesn’t make a lot of sense (while planning a family vacation for example), but it’s a good jumping off point for most purchases.
Cutting back on impulse purchases will save you a lot of money in the long run. So the next time you feel like whipping out your credit card, make sure you’re making a smart purchase that you won’t regret in the future.