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Be Wise With Money

7 Ways to Stop Impulse Buys

Avoid unplanned purchases & take control of your spending

person shopping


An astonishing number of us spend impulsively – some 84% of Americans, according to a January 2016 creditcards.com poll.

More than half of the poll's respondents said they've spent $100 or more on an impulse buy. An additional 20% said they've spent at least $1,000 on impulse.

But learning to control impulse shopping is possible. It's a matter of thinking about what your money can do for you and aligning your spending with your values

7 simple strategies to curb impulsive spending

1. Create a monthly spending strategy.

First, set aside part of your money to "share" or donate. Then, put at least 10% to 15% of your monthly income into savings.

Next, figure out how much you'll spend for housing, utilities, taxes, basic groceries and other fixed expenses. Out of what's left, plan to use some of it as "fun money" for however you want.

2. Put your fun money on a prepaid credit card.

Using prepaid credit cards can help make sure you don't overspend.

"I sometimes suggest people have a couple of prepaid cards," says Jim Clouser, a Thrivent Financial representative outside Boston. "Put some money for eating out on one card, for example. Set up another card for clothes shopping."

3. Don't shop when you're sad or angry.

"Reasonable people overspend when they're emotional," says Micah Velilla, a Thrivent Financial representative in Chapin, South Carolina. "Buying something can make you feel better."
But the thrill you get from buying something you didn't intend to buy is usually temporary.

4. Don't shop with other people.

While it's fun to shop with others, peer pressure can push you to spend – and spend a lot.

"You're more likely to buy a dress you hadn't planned to buy if you're with friends who tell you how great it looks on you," Velilla says.

5. Wait before you buy.

Before you make any discretionary purchase, make yourself wait a day. Often, when the wait is over, so too is the urge to buy. This rule of thumb also applies to online shopping.

"Before you hit 'buy,' save your shopping cart, log out and go for a walk," Clouser says. "Many times, you'll decide you don't want to hit the 'buy' button after all."

6. Make a list.

Retailers arrange their merchandise strategically to catch our attention and generate spur-of-the-moment buys. With a shopping list in hand, you'll be able to ignore what you don't need.

7.Don't be fooled by sales.

"Sales can make you feel like you've won something," Velilla says. "You won! You saved $100! But the truth is, if you spent $500 that you weren't planning to spend, you didn't save a thing."

That said, those clearance racks can be a good thing – when you're mindful about your shopping habits, you can wait for a sale to buy items you need.

Get help tracking your spending and building your savings with BalanceWorks™, a monthly money management system offered by Thrivent Federal Credit Union.

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