I remember early on in our marriage shopping for a new BBQ. The store had a sale on so I bought not only a whiz bang BBQ but also a heap of extras to go with it. In the end, I had overspent and busted our budget plans. It took a few months to recover from that impulse buying spree. Nowadays, when Nicole and I are discussing a possible purchase we will often say to each other, “Let’s not do another BBQs galore!”

‘Impulse buying’ refers to unplanned expenditures that we make based on emotion. This is the number one budget buster. Some of us get excited at the very sight of the word ‘SALE’, an interest free offer or an offer of ‘2 for the price of 1’. Just because you can afford it doesn’t mean you should buy it. If you buy something on sale, you are not saving, you are spending!

Research indicates that women do this more often than men. But men do it in larger amounts. Come on guys, that extra pair of shoes your wife recently purchased will not bust the budget as much as that new mega-size television you bought for the games room! In fact, when it comes to credit card debt, men owe an average of $450 more than women.

Advertising motivates us to buy things we often don’t need and seeks to make us dissatisfied with what we have now. Advertising’s aim is to tell you, “Last year’s model is not good enough”, “What you have now is not good enough any more” and “You need this!” It creates dissatisfaction. The truth is that all material things always oversell themselves. They promise us satisfaction, prestige, power and security but rarely deliver on their promises over the long term.

Avoid situations that encourage you to spend, such as unnecessary visits to shopping centres (some people go shopping when they feel depressed), watching too much television, store catalogues, and continual exposure to advertisements. Be satisfied with what you have rather than focusing on what you don’t have. Resist temptation. If you don’t then pretty soon you are living on 99% or more of your income.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when considering a possible purchase:

  1. “Do I really need this?” There is no point buying something you don’t need even if it is on sale for a good price.
  2. “Is this a good price? Is it really a bargain? It is the current model? 40% off what?”
  3. “Is this the best time for me to buy?”
  4. “Do I really need a new one?” Buy second-hand, if possible.
  5. “Have I done enough research?”

For more practical financial wisdom like this, pick up a copy of my most recent book Money Tips: Practical Principles for Becoming Financially Free.”

12 thoughts on “Beware: Impulse Buying!

  1. Great blog , I buy goods I use often @ half price so I buy more than I need , and store until I do!
    Saving money , not really .

  2. I will not buy any more clothes until the warmer weather!! I’ve promised God! hehe I have too many clothes as it is! I used to overspend, but not anymore. I’ve become a saver! Feels good too.

  3. I go by the rule of “if i wouldn’t have bought the item at full price, then it is not a bargain at sale price”

  4. Agree completely, I wish I could have told my 25 year old self this instead of understanding this wisdom in the second half 👌

  5. Appreciate your wise counsel Mark and totally agree with you. Ever since I was 10 years old
    I believed in supporting the charitable Op shops which I propagated to my grandchildren. Budgeting to live within my means and sharing what I can is a way of life. Shopping/paying bills is once a fortnight with a list for me, saving myself on petrol costs. We really don’t need better toys or the latest clothes/shoes. If my clothes aren’t worn to the thread than I keep wearing them and reserve the holy ones for gardening. I darn my socks too…… No retail therapy 🙂
    My motto is “don’t spend what you don’t have.”

  6. Good on you, Carol!
    My son, Ashley and his wife Malisa are trying to live with 47 items of clothing each!
    The new minimalism 🙂

  7. So true, Jo – in many areas of life.
    But the journey is important and we wouldn’t be who we are today without it.
    Love to you and Greg.
    Good memories 🙂

  8. Not sure what your point is, Penny?
    My wife and I still work, as we need to generate income to live like most people, so we are not ‘financially independent’.
    The only advice that is ‘easy” is that which doesn’t come from experience – including both failures and successes.

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