How do you curb impulse spending?

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How do you avoid the lure of the Zappos box!? (By: Magnify.net - CC BY 2.0)
How do you avoid the lure of the Zappos box!? (By: Magnify.netCC BY 2.0)
The combination of a steady income, no huge financial responsibilities other than rent, and the ease of online shopping has meant that I have been spending money (and acquiring things) more quickly than I would like to.

I know I won’t put myself into debt over it, but I’d like to curtail the spending so that I can save for big things like travel or a future mortgage.

Plus the shipping, all the boxes, and just having stuff I don’t really need feels kind of wasteful.

I know a good solution is not to browse in the first place (even if all the shoes do look pretty…). So I’m wondering what strategies Homies might have when it comes to resisting impulse purchases either online or in a store. -Jackie

How do you dissuade impulse spending?

Comments on How do you curb impulse spending?

  1. I don’t really find that I have a problem with online impulse spending.. Shipping costs annoy me and I tend to be pretty “instant gratification”, but as far as regular shopping goes..if I’m really just going shopping because I feel like buying something and I don’t need anything, I’ll tend to carry around whatever it is I’m thinking of buying until I get bored and change my mind, haha. But I really find that going through whatever I have already, clothes, books, etc, makes me really aware of the fact I don’t need more stuff. Sometimes I even end up getting rid of things! This actually happened yesterday and today I plan to get rid of even more stuff because I’m sick of opening closets and cabinets and seeing things I forgot I had (and really like) just hiding away.

    • Hmm, maybe I should get rid of Amazon Prime? Free shipping from that and Zappos means I’ve gotten a little too good at avoiding that extra cost. It might be time to shift to buying things in actual stores–it’s less convenient, so it requires more forethought, and I get to support local businesses at the same time.

      Going through what you have already is great! Inspired by Overdressed: the Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, I actually did an inventory of most of my clothes…and realized I still have lots of them around that I never wear, even after a couple purges. So now it’s all about figuring out how to use what I already have, or get rid of it if I can’t or don’t want to.

      With books the memories of moving those heavy boxes are relatively fresh, which helps, as does moving across the country and giving up 90% of what I had acquired up to that point. Used books are so cheap that they’re starting to trickle back onto my shelves, though, so it’s probably time for another hard look at them.

      • If you like Zappos, but want cheaper prices, try their sister site 6pm.com. At least your impulse buys will have less of an impact on your savings account. (It used to charge for shipping, but it seems that’s changed recently… hmmm…)

        • Dude, 6pm could easily drown me in debt, I love me a good bargain and when its on sale I tend to go nuts even more!!

      • The library is a great place to check out books and movies and music! My husband and I don’t have much room, so that helps me with impulse-buying books in particular. We are thinking about moving onto a boat in the next few years, so it helps to remember that A) we won’t have much room when that happens; and B) boats are expensive! So I try to think how awesome it will be to save up for that more quickly rather than getting coffee/food out all the time or buying things I really don’t need. I think having a good savings goal (like traveling!) helps combat impulses, because you have this awesome thing in the future to look forward to. πŸ™‚

      • Argh, Amazon Prime is the bane of my non-impulse-buying existence. If I didn’t have free shipping, I’m sure I’d be less inclined to impulse buy on Amazon. But I do have it because I stream videos and use it to ship actual important stuff (like dog food, laundry detergent, and coconut oil)….it’s just so easy to be like, “Oh yeah, of COURSE I need to buy that book off of my wishlist…and look at that totally cool kitchen scale! It’s RETRO looking! I need it!”

  2. It’s a new year… I challenged myself to stop consuming for an entire year. I didn’t stop shopping entirely, I was “allowed” to replace broken items or buy items that were essentials (such as bikini if I had none). But each purchase had to be motivated. No impulse shopping.
    I tried hard to find eco-friendly stuff, to make sure it was durable.
    I avoided browsing or going to the mall until I had changed my way of thinking. It’s like giving up sugar or smoking or any such thing, I guess. Avoid temptations until they no longer are tempting.

    • That sounds drastic but it’s probably an excellent idea. I should look at what need I’m trying to fill with impulse shopping, like Ariel did with Facebook and Instagram for her social media diet.

    • My parents did something like this for a year once β€” they decided to buy nothing newer, better, or faster β€” so if something wore out or broke, they could replace it with an equivalent model (or get it fixed if possible), but no upgrades, no new fancy gadgets. It was kind of neat, although I’m not sure I really *got* it as a kid.

    • This is what I do, but I’ve found that I still always have some essential or needing-to-be-replaced thing– I already have 7 jackets/coats, but I needed one with huge pockets for trap shooting. I already have an unthinkable number of shoes, but I needed plain flats or boots or casual boots or sparkly party shoes. (Oh my gosh, I’ve seriously gotten 3/4 of those in the past 4 months.) I had five pairs of gloves, but when I ruined my favorite pair, I had to replace them.

      The truth is, I think it’s still curbed my impulse spending (I don’t buy sundressses anymore), but I feel like I still always technically need something, so I have to combine it with many of the other techniques mentioned here (using cash instead of cards, adding things to wishlists, tracking on mint.com, setting saving goals and being satisfied with that number, comparing the price of items to other things I could do with the money) in order for it to be effective. Honestly, I feel like breaking the impulse buying habit is just really complicated and difficult and almost a full-time job. But once you start to break it, it does get easier!

    • I’m trying to do a similar thing this year: have a buy-no-clothes year. Similar to what others have said – I’m allowed to replace broken or worn-out items, but not get anything new without a reason.

      So far (and this is a tough month, with so many adverts for big sales!) it’s really helped me avoid my favourite shops and websites. I just think – hey, I don’t need anything anyway! Even if I do a bit of window shopping, I know I won’t be tempted to buy.

      It kind of helps that I’ve been updating and professional-ising my wardrobe for the past 18 months or so – so I have plenty to wear to work etc. But for that reason, I’ve been spending more recently, on good-quality, long-lasting, ethically-made clothes – so it felt like a good year to do this.

  3. I tell myself: if I still want it in a week/month (depending on the cost), I’ll buy it.

    • Most websites have a ”wishlist” option right bellow the ”add to cart” button. Click the wishlist first and a week later, come back to see if you can still not manage without the prized item. Good luck!

    • This is my general rule of thumb. Aside from regular essential things like sock, laundry detergent, shampoo, kitty litter, etc…I TRY to wait at least one week per $10 that it costs. I had a $50 hard-floor vacuum on my Amazon wishlist for about 6 months, and finally ordered it this week. A new down parka from LL Bean? I hemmed and hawed for about a year on that one (finally bought it, and still love it two years later!). New book by Mary Roach? That sat on my wishlist through Christmas, and then I bought it for myself. However…I’m not always as good, especially if it’s something that I find at an antique store of junk shop; it just might not BE there in a week. So, awesome turquoise cast-aluminum dutch oven for $20? TOTALLY BOUGHT IT without waiting….of course, I’d already been eBaying stalking the crap out of stuff like that so I new the market and it wasn’t THAT much of an impulse buy…right?

      • So maybe stop going to antique stores or junk shops? My amount of willpower works in weird ways. I was able to quit smoking cold turkey about a year and a half ago, but I have problems sticking to my diet if certain foods are in the house or my husband is away on business. Removing the temptation to impulse-buy by not going to the stores you have the most problems with could be something that works for you.

  4. Debbie Downer time: I used to have that problem.
    My finances have changed significantly since then. Life happens! I really wish now that I’d stashed away even half of that money. If your bank account isn’t already set up to automatically transfer money into a savings account, do it. If it is, set it up to transfer more.
    That said, of course it’s still a problem. What I do when I catch myself online shopping is just add the items to my cart, then I physically walk away from the computer for at least an hour. Usually, the impulse is totally gone when I get back. In stores, if I find an item I think I like, I don’t put it in my cart and go on with my other essential shopping. It almost never seems worth walking back around the store to get the thing!

    • Great points Dootsie. I need to set up an automatic savings transfer, that really would help. I’ll ask next time I’m at the bank!

      I also put items in my digital shopping cart and then walk away, and a lot of times I’ll just “window shop” digitally. I thought I read somewhere that window shopping actually gives you the same buzz as normal shopping. Whether or not it’s true, it works for me. I know that I won’t buy anything when I start browsing, load up my shopping cart, and close the window. When I know I won’t actually purchase anything, it’s fun to load the cart up with stuff out of my budget!

      My clothes buying is drastically lower than it used to be!

    • You can usually talk to your HR person and have them split your paycheck too. I’m in the same situation (we’re both FINALLY employed and out out of debt at the same time!) and I got giddy seeing my checking account grow. Then I realized I was binge shopping just because I could and buying crap I didn’t need. Now, 2/3 of my paycheck (after taxes, retirement contributions, and and transit allowance) goes into a savings account and only the remaining 1/3 goes into my checking. It’s still growing a lot faster than it used to, but most is getting socked away where I’m less tempted to touch it. Somehow SAVINGS ACCOUNT seems more sacred and untouchable than CHECKING ACCOUNT in my brain.

        • Capital One 360 savings account has fairly high interest rates (0.75%) compared to the measly 0.01% from Chase or BofA. I’ve never had any penalties for withdrawing and I’ve had the account for a couple of years now. It’s really simple and has a fairly user-friendly interface to keep track of your money.

  5. I always review my cart and ask myself “do you really need that” before I enter my payment information. I find that just the pause to check in with myself helps cut down on what I buy.

    • I also do this, but take it one step further. Before I even input my payment info, I leave the online store and don’t go back for a few days. Most of the time, after a couple of days I don’t have that desire for those items, so I just never purchase them.

  6. This has worked really well for me the more I practiced it: When you pick something up (or see it online), put it in your basket then walk around. If you’re in the store, walk up and down all the aisles. If you’re at home get away from the computer, but visualize what you’re buying.

    While I’m doing this I ask myself these things:
    When and how will I use this? Is it an item or something similar to an item I’ve given up in the past?
    If this were twice as much would I still feel like I GOTTA have it?
    Did I walk into the store or go to the site with the intention of buying this?
    Do I have other items in my basket that make me hesitate? When I walk around (or browse online) do I find myself eager to buy several things? For me personally, when I’m eager to buy several things that’s a sign that I might be shopping out of boredom.

    After I’ve walked for a good 10-15 minutes I usually find myself bored with the item already or I rationalized why I should wait. After a while I developed the habits and values that martina mentioned, and I became more conscious of how much I consumed. So I stopped shopping unless it was for something really useful or important. Which was tough at first ’cause I definitely shopped for something to do. But, there’s fun in doing the research, testing the product, and looking for quality!

    edit: I equate “impulse shopping” with “boredom shopping.” Not sure if my advice would work if you’re fashion inclined or enjoy other aspects of shopping.

    • Haha, I have also used the “Do I want this enough to carry it around the store until I’m done shopping?” trick. I also use a basket instead of a cart, and if I truly am entering the store for only one thing, I don’t even use a basket.

    • I think your recognition that you’re bored when you start behaving a certain way is brilliant. For me it’s probably somewhat out of boredom too. I also find it kind of fun, but I’m still not entirely sure why. Maybe it’s that I can’t help thinking, “if I just had ___ in my life then everything would be so much awesomer.” Which is ridiculous, but exactly what advertisers want me to buy into. I guess it’s better to instead figure out what I’m really craving at that moment (usually not a physical object) and find ways to get that elsewhere.

      • Yeah, I started this whole routine when it became obvious my impulse shopping at a nearby was occurring between classes. When I was bored I wanted to be visually stimulated and interact with people while I did so. And malls are a like a giant modern-art museum to me! Knowing that I was looking for something attractive helped me train myself into “critiquing” everything I picked up.

        … and now i’m a snob. πŸ™

      • Maybe it’s that I can’t help thinking, “if I just had ___ in my life then everything would be so much awesomer.”

        THIS! It was really eye-opening to me to realize that most advertising is first about convincing you that you’re not happy, but that if you buy this thing of ours for $19.95 it will solve your problem and make you happier! But that item never fulfills as much as you think it will. Life will never be perfect, but I think we can learn to be happy in imperfection.

        I also always remember that wise philosopher Mr. Spock: “Having is not so pleasing a thing as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true.”

  7. I recently read an article about “shopping bulimia” and it was as if it had been written all about me. (you can read it here: http://www.torontosun.com/2013/12/02/is-shopping-bulimia-the-newest-disorder). I was constantly buying stuff then returning it a day later because of the guilt. now I have things under control (mostly).
    What I try to do is always wait 24 hours before purchasing something I see online. If it’s still there, at the same price, and i really couldn’t stop thinking about it I will usually buy it.
    I also save myself by only purchasing from places with free shipping.
    finally, I always get rid of something before bringing in something new. For example, I saw a GORGEOUS coat on ModCloth that I wanted. When I went to find a coat to part with in exchange for this new coat, I couldn’t find one to part with so no new coat came in.

  8. I set aside the amount of money I am willing to spend online or shopping generally in cash every month. Then, when I purchase something online I move the cash from the available envelope, to a deposit envelope. When its gone, its gone so it tends to make me think critically about how much I need something since on many occasions I have blown it all the first week only to regret it towards the end of the month.

    • We do something really similar, only it’s with all of our money. We take out what we’ve allotted for the week. That covers grocery, gas, incidentals, etc. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. If there’s extra, it goes in the “money pot” that gets saved up. I have to say, putting a $20 in the money pot is generally way more satisfying that most purposes. Of course, if I need something, then the money is in the pot for that use. I’ve been sooooo much better about spending since we switched to a cash system.

    • A great website that encourages “envelope” budgeting is called http://www.Goodbudget.com. Its basic features are free. You can set your envelopes (e.g. groceries, rent, eating out, online shopping, bills, savings, etc.), and “fill” them with the income you make each month. Once your “eating out” envelope is empty, no more eating out for the duration of the month. Boom. It helps to get an idea of how fast you’re spending your money. (“What? How did I empty my ‘eating out’ envelope before the 10th of the month???” <— What I spend my money on impulsively.)

      I set some envelopes and immediately "empty" them (e.g. my savings envelope and my car insurance envelope) to indicate that I always have a set payment for those items.

      I like that it's an intuitive system and it helps me to visualize my money and where it's going. Your mileage may vary!

  9. Buying used/vintage is usually the instant impulse-shopping killer for me… as it prevents any impulse at all.
    If I can’t find it used, then I don’t buy it. And as it usually takes a little while to find what I wanted, the “need” for it has disappeared.

    Impulse shopping derives from the fact that you don’t actually have to put any thought into shopping: you just go and grag/click your item without really thinking whether you want it, need it or will use it.

    Buying used stuff, on the other hand, requires some effort: you have to track down your item for a couple of days/weeks, sometimes go and meet a seller, pick up your phone… If I’m willing to go through all this, then I’ll buy the item. If I can’t be bothered to visit second-hand websites, then I decide I don’t need it after all : ) i’ve really cut my spending since I started buying mostly second-hand (of course, this doesn’t apply to emergency “the-fridge-broke-down” situations).

  10. Curbing my spending actually had more to do with changing my habits more than anything else. I used to be a TV and movie addict and loved buying box sets and endless DVDs. Now I read more often and buying ebooks is far cheaper than box sets.

    I usually buy ebooks with this method: if I buy a book, I have to read all the books that I haven’t read on my iPad. The way I see it, books are cheap and reading is a far better habit than getting home and zoning out in front of the TV for 4 hours.

    • also, most ereaders or ipads can be linked to your library and books downloaded, at home, for free. it’s wonderful.

  11. The rule my husband and I have is that if it’s more than $200, we need to at least talk to the other person about the potential purchase, and wait 30 days.

    I’m seeing a theme in the comments …

    • Since we combined our money, we do the same. It might not be necessary if couples had separate accounts for flexible spending, but it is definitely necessary for us.

      • I think even with separate accounts it’s a good idea to discuss any expense over $200. Although I haven’t done it in the past (my husband and I have separate accounts), I think it’s a good rule to go by and one that forces you to be honest with how much you are actually spending. So this will be one I adopt for sure!

        • Yes – we have a few joint accounts for joint expenses, and personal accounts/allowances for non-joint purchases, and we STILL have the $200 rule regardless of where the money is coming from (with the exception of gift cards – it’s not my fault if his Godmother gets me a $250 gift care to the Apple store). It’s great for accountability and limiting the damage of impulse buys πŸ™‚

          Also, this may belong on a separate post, but we do an annual financial State of the Union, and this year decided that my allowance should be about $100 higher each month because of the invisible Lady Tax (the extra products or services that most women need to buy in order to be a fully presentable professional). For me, that accounts for regular eyebrow waxes, makeup, razors, tampons, and haircuts that COST SO MUCH MORE FOR WOMEN THAN FOR MEN.

          • I ABSOLUTELY agree that there is an invisible Lady Tax – but actually this is one area where I’ve been cutting down my spending too, just by slowly reducing the number of things I feel I need in order to be “presentable”.

            Can I pluck my eyebrows, or have waxes less regularly? Can I switch makeup brands, at least with some products? Can I have a haircut that takes less maintenance or fewer cuts per year?

            It’s really made me reassess what *I* need versus what magazines would like me to *FEEL* that I need. It can really help with body image too.

            Your mileage may vary of course!

          • I know this is months later, but in some countries it’s not even an invisible tax. VAT applies not only to women’s razors in the UK and not to men’s, but also to tampons and pads because apparently those are non-essential items!

  12. Agree with automatic savings. When I am flush with money I have 20-40% automatically taken out and then if I do want to splurge I’ve already taken care of my future self first.

  13. I’m also going to suggest the idea of “Pay yourself first,” and by that I mean, “Pay your savings accounts first.” I’ve set up several targeted savings accounts (emergency, travel, car, yearly expenses, medical, etc) and I direct deposit out of my paycheck straight into those accounts. Then I’m left with a fun allowance that I can decide how to spend each month. It sounds childish, but having an allowance really helps me prioritize what I actually want to spend money on.

    Things also go onto my wishlist for at least a day, usually more, before I pull the trigger. This is especially important with Amazon, since they make buying so easy (seriously, don’t use 1 click ordering). I also use an extension for Chrome called “Add to Amazon Wishlist,” which lets me keep anything I’ve found online on my Amazon wishlist. If it’s all in one place, I can make better decisions.

  14. Put it on your Amazon (or other) wish list. This gives me most of the same happy feels as shopping but it doesn’t cost anything. Then the next time I actually need to buy something (like replacement vacuum cleaner filters… my Amazon recommendations are exciting as hell), I can look at my wish list to see if there’s anything I could add to hit the free shipping minimum. Sometimes there is but most of the time I end up deleting items that no longer fill me with joy.

    • When I found out I was getting a new job my brain went “Yay! Time to update my whole professional wardrobe!”
      So my solution to NOT buying everything I wanted was to find a photo of it, and pin it to my Pinterest board. It immediately curbed that impulse feeling and self-expression, and I knew that when I really needed a certain type of item I could go back to my board and find that perfect piece.
      So far, I have only actually bought one item off my Pinterest boards (and nothing else) so it’s been working for me.

      • I use Pinterest as a form of online window shopping, too! There’s always room for more pins/another board. The same cannot be said for my closet or my bank account. πŸ™

    • I pin things to pinterest as well. That way if I know I want something, but don’t need it at the time or don’t have the money at the time I can access it later. 90% of the time I never do, lol. So in the end it saves me money.

      • Yup, pinterest was going to be my suggestion. Not only does it curb the impulse because i know i wont forget about it, but when people ask me what I want for birthdays or holidays, i can just send them a link to my pinterest boards.

  15. This most often happens to me on Amazon.com
    The “Save for later” button is fantastic. It keeps things out of your cart, but they are still accessible. And they tell you if the price goes up or down. If I’m not sure if I actually NEED something, it sits in the save for later list. And I actually wrote my Christmas list from a lot of the items on that list, since my family exchanges wish lists as a guideline or starting point for the Christmas exchange.
    Also I ask myself the following questions before I buy something, similar to other commentors above?
    – How often will I use this thing? Does it serve more than one purpose?
    – Do I have a place to store it?
    – Do I have something similar already? Will I be able to give away the item I already have, or am I making clutter?
    – Is this a complete replacement or an upgrade for an item I already have?
    – Could I find this used at a thrift store or do I have to buy it new? (works for a lot of kitchen stuff)
    – For clothing, shoes, or accessories:
    Will this go with at least 5 outfits I already have?
    Does it fill a hole in my wardrobe, or will it cause me stress later on trying to match it with what I already own or force me to buy something else to match it?

    For budgeting, my husband and I do the following each month:
    1. pay the bills, including budgeting money for anticipated expenses like car repairs, dentist bills, optometrist, vet checkups, etc that month
    2. put a nonnegotiable minimum amount in savings each month.
    3. look at a picture of a house we want, and put MORE in savings
    4. use any “leftover” money to buy things we really really want, most of the time saving up several months of leftover money

  16. I was pretty bad about clothes. I would buy a whole bunch of stuff on sale and come home to find that none of it matched my wardrobe and it would feel really wasteful. So, with the help of a “my style” board on Pinterest that I assembled over the course of a few weeks, I made a list of what I wanted to add to my wardrobe. I listed things like, “bright tank top with a cool back,” and, “neutral skinny jeans.” Now when I go clothes shopping I look at the list and figure out one or two items that I’ll look for. It helps me focus when I’m shopping and my wardrobe is a lot more cohesive now.

    • Good idea! I have a couple things in my wardrobe that I’ve never worn. It’s probably that when I buy it, I think it’s really cool and it reflects the kind of person it would be fun to be maybe, but in reality it doesn’t actually fit into my lifestyle and the clothes I wear all the time. “Dress for the life you have, not an imaginary fantasy life that you don’t truly want” should become my new mantra. And it’s why I’ve so far resisted buying some really cute high-heeled pumps on Modcloth. I’m not actually a high-heeled pumps person.

  17. Hmm, well, it’s been a long time since I’ve really had the extra income for this issue, but I have a few ideas:

    1. You could set up your bank account to automatically put most of your extra money into savings with every paycheck. I know I’m a lot less likely to transfer back into checking unless I really, really need to than to spend what I see in checking. Plus, if then you only use what you have in checking, you’ll see a lower sum and might instead think “gee, I shouldn’t spend $X on Y item…” Would work for me, anyway. OH, and you get the added bonus of your money then making interest, helping you to save more.

    2. I find that I actually get a lot of satisfaction out of the spending I do for gifts for others, so where I can’t really justify much spending for myself, I feel less guilty if I know it’s tackling so-and-so’s birthday gift (even if that person’s birthday is a few months away). As long as you don’t go crazy on it, it’s a great way to get the shopping satisfaction without the “now I have a ton of stuff I don’t need/want.” (Assuming you also are buying FOR another person, and not just stuff you’d want that you end up giving someone else) If your finances ever take a nasty turn, having those gifts already taken care of can reduce your stress later, too.

    **edited to add** 3. I often bookmark things I want to buy and come back later, whether later that day or another day. It gives me time to think it over and decide if I really need/want it, and also I can price- and product-compare elsewhere, which makes me feel better about purchases, too.

    • For the automatic deposits that accrue interest, I recommend finding an online bank/savings account that’s harder to access than your regular bank account.
      Personally, I have one online account that has high interest and is ONLY for saving up for big items like a big trip, or my wedding years ago.

    • For savings, I’d also add to set very specific savings goals — like not just how much you will need to accomplish a goal, but what date you’d like to do that so how much you need to save up. (E.g., I want to travel to such-and-such place next summer, have X amount for a down payment to purchase a home by 2016, treat myself to laser vision correction for my 30th birthday, etc.)

      I’ve found that the little high that I get from acquiring new things can somewhat be replicated when I check the balance of my savings account and see progress towards my goals. It makes me excited to think that the money I have automatically going into savings isn’t going into a vague general rainy day fund (though of course good to have this, too) but toward something I really want.

  18. I also really recommend Mint.com and setting up an account. That way you can set up a budget, and since it connects to your bank accounts you get a notification right away after you go over budget in a certain area (like clothing), or if you are getting close to your budget amount. I have it on all of my devices…so I don’t really have an excuse for going over budget.
    Also… avoid the physical stores you like. There are a couple of stores where I know if I go in, I will drop serious cash every time. So I avoid, avoid, avoid. Then, when I actually have money saved up to go in there I don’t feel guilty about spending.

    • A little used device of saving for big things that my husband and I use is an envelope with cash in it. Both of us know exactly how much cash is in the envelope so there is no desire to spend it. I know you don’t accrue interest, but for us it works for saving for things like trips, where we generally are only saving for a few months anyway.

      • It’s not just interest you are missing out on if you keep large amounts of money in cash, it is security. What if your home was robbed or there was a fire? All that money would be gone, and you’d have no way to get it back.

        I understand a cash only system can work to curb spending, but it just seems so dangerous to me.

    • I know Mint.com has been around for years, and a lot of people really love it. It totally freaks me out that all my spending and credit info is so easily accessible in one place. What if I get hacked? There goes ALL my financial information!

      (I know Mint.com itself is really secure, my main concern is how secure *I* really am.)

  19. I used to be pretty bad about impulse buying, both online and in person. I didn’t buy expensive things, just ‘good deals on stuff i would use’. Which was true. But, I knew that many of my purchases weren’t really necessary.

    So, I did two things. I did a massive clean out of my apartment (every drawer, closet, shelf) and really reduced what i owned. This made me really really consider every new thing I brought in after I had just given away so much.

    And, the two things I really want(ed) are (a) a house/condo and (b) to get our adoption paperwork completed. So, i found a little line drawing online of a little girl in front of a house and I put one copy in the clear window of my wallet that normally holds ID and i *taped a copy of it* to the front of my credit card. This was to make me think about whether what I was about to purchase served my *ultimate ultimate* goals. It usually didn’t.

    This worked by the way – we get the keys to our new condo next Wednesday.
    πŸ™‚

    • Getting rid of stuff is a great way to curb your spending. I have also gone through everything and managed to get rid of a LOT of stuff. Having things cleared out is a great feeling as it allows me to see what I have and enjoy it: like being able to see each item of clothing clearly rather than just a wardrobe full of clothes with no appreciation of each thing in there and missing things I already own or thinking I need more wool for a project then finding something I already had that would have worked just as well, sometimes better.

      I always ask myself “how this thing will better my life” and if I can answer in a way that is long term, ‘these shoes will turn 3 dull outfits into ones that excite me’ then I can have it. If the answer is that it wont make my life better or would be short term like ‘I can wear it to that party Im not to bothered about anyway’ then I wont get it.

      • Third-ing getting rid of stuff. I find that the more I get rid of and the less cluttered my home is, the more I want to keep it that way by not bringing more random stuff in.

    • A similar strategy has been working well for my husband lately. He’s really bad about impulse buys, but since we’ve downsized a lot of our “stuff” he’s thinking more critically about everything he’s consuming.

    • Love all those suggestions. Especially when it comes to buying things because they’re cheap. “It’s cheap/on sale” by itself is not a good reason to buy something, especially because you’ll have to then find a way store it, move it, maintain it, or dispose of it at some point. I had that one driven home by a college friend who is a worse impulse buyer than I am, especially for cheap things, but then had a hell of a time packing up her dorm room and moving out after graduation.

    • Congratulations on the condo! I like the idea of keeping a picture of your goal in your wallet.

  20. I’m loving this question – super-useful comments!

    I’ve just put myself on a yarn diet. I’m a knitter, and recently I’ve been letting myself pop into any yarn shop/craft store I happen to find, and usually come out with a few skeins. Oh, and that online shop had free shipping and a sale so I stocked up there, too. I realized the other day that I’m running out of room to store my yarn, and I found lots that I’d forgotten I even had. So I’m on a yarn diet: no yarn is to come into this house. Not even with the gift certificates I got for Christmas.

    Here’s how I’m sticking with it:
    – I told my husband, my mother, and my friends that I’m doing this. Accountability!
    – I’ve given myself a timeline: this is for six months, at which point I will re-asses. On July 1st, I’ll go through my stash again and decide if the diet will continue, and what I can give away/donate
    – I’ve made a list of fun things to knit with all this yarn I forgot I have! So that’s exciting.
    – Since I’m running out of storage space, pretty yarn is becoming dΓ©cor. Having it out and about where I can see it makes me remember how much I have, and recommit myself

    I know I’m only a few days into this. But I’ve made other plans for the day my local yarn shop is having its big annual sale. It feels good to have a strategy to knit through my stash.

    • Oh the yarn diets…

      Last year I had to relocate my stash which meant I had to a) first locate all of it ( cough, cough ) and b) come to grips with the number of unfinished projects I had and c) also recognize the number of times I’ve bought yarn ‘on spec’ that didn’t pan out ( meaning I bought it with no specific project in mind .. and then it went nowhere).

      Since then the rules are :
      1) No new yarn without specific project. This means no browsing for yarn! Not online and certainly not in yarn stores. So far I haven’t had problems sticking to that because..
      2) No new projects. ‘Nuff said.

      At some point I know I’m going to crack on #2 which will threaten #1. But so far it’s working and as long as the stash doesn’t grow over the course of a year, I’m going to call it a win.

    • Oh the yarn diet, how constantly I am on you.

      One of the things I found with making myself actually a: remember what i owned and b: actually use it was photographing every skein in my stash and uploading it on Ravelry. Even without pulling out the (now single!! only one!!) yarn storage under the bed, I can see I have three skeins of that red fingering weight cashmere, and then sort every project in my pattern queue that could possibly go with it. In fact, for when i really get the urge to do something new, there are a couple of pre-packaged snaplock bags with the yarn, needles and pattern inside, just waiting for me to grab them and start (before I instead settle on Ridiculous Thing I’ll Never Finish #3476 That I Also Need To Buy Yarn For).

      But seriously. Ravelry. Bane and love of my life. (also a good way to sell/give away stash without having to list it anywhere else!)

      • Oooh. I still have a few days left before going back to work – I think this is what I’ll be spending it on.

  21. This may be too much for some but I have a lock box and if I find myself spending too much, out come the credit and debit cards and into the lock box they go! I set 1 day a week for errands like grocery shopping or gas when I can take them out and use them and then back in they go. If I don’t have money on me I can’t spend it! I usually do it for a week or two and then by that point I have some better control! For me at least impulse spending is sort of a habit so not having access to money stops the habitual reach and swipe!

  22. I don’t know if this helps at all, but when I started creating a budget, I’ve had a set amount every month for myself to spend on whatever craziness I felt like spending on. I have come to find out that even though my income has increased now.. I still spend the same for myself, and put the rest towards savings or retirement. I keep thinking.. do I really need that few hundred dollar item, or will I need it more in retirement for medications, or food to sustain myself?You can guess which one wins out most of the time. So while all the trinkets you get now will age with you, they won’t give anything back to you unless your a SIM and it gives you lifepoints to stare at it all day. But if you’re human like the rest of us, I highly suggest putting it in the future, cause you never really know what might happen. Those $40 shoes may be cool today.. but thats $40 towards an oil change for your vehicle, planting a veggie garden for yourself, cold meds or alternative medicine when you’re sick, or even a donation that is desperately needed somewhere more. You just never know!

  23. Pinterest is great for this! I have a few boards that I treat like glorified wish lists – clothes I think I might like, makeup (nail polish!), household goods. Whatever it is I think I might want to buy goes up on a board, and if I find that I still want it weeks or months later, I know where to find it. (Usually whatever it is just gets forgotten though. Usually.)

  24. I used to purchase a lot of cheap clothes, which had a high turn over (they never kept their color, shape etc).
    To stop this I started investing in more expensive pieces.
    I dont feel comfortable spending larger sums of money on items without doing my research so it stopped me from impulse buying, trimmed down my wardrobe and made me appreciate the quality of the products.
    I did this because I had too much stuff but I’m sure that I’ve saved money too, as the better quality items last much longer.

    • And this is why I have hardly purchased any clothing in the past few years. I want to instead invest in better quality pieces, but I can’t really afford to spend on better quality pieces, so I just don’t buy much in the way of new clothing. I have purchased a few things, but not much, and a handful of items were actually used, anyway. The only real exceptions to this have been some maternity items, because I really, really needed some clothes and don’t have the budget to buy really high quality stuff (especially when I probably won’t wear them for quite as many consecutive years, anyway).

  25. I second (or third? Fourth?) the Mint.com suggestion. It really helps keep spending down and in a range that you feel is appropriate.

    I also try to remind myself of big budget items or events that I really want or want to attend to help my save, rather than spend money. For example, I bought tickets for the music festival Firefly, but I know the event itself will cost more money. So when I see something that I want but don’t need, I think of something equivalent that I will need later for Firefly or I will want at Firefly and save the money instead.

    Another idea that I think people have already mentioned is to take that little bit of money and put it in your savings account instead.

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