I would love to say that I never waste money, that I don’t spend cash I really cannot spare and that I am in control 100% of the time. But I’m not! It would be a lie. When I am feeling down or hormonal, when I am too tired to research the best prices and look for a bargain, I am as tempted as anyone else to have a spending frenzy and bust my budget.
Brewing up for a spending frenzy
Take yesterday. I felt exhausted and needed cheering up. Then I got an email inviting me to submit a short video clip which potentially could be used on an upcoming Channel 5 programme. Oooh, exciting, I thought, but what will I wear? I NEED something new! I shot into town to find a new top. I found one in Marks and Spencer and fortunately had a £25 voucher from my birthday. Only then I found a bargain pair of jeans – just £15!
I needed more jeans as I have only one pair that fit, so I actually could justify this purchase and, with the voucher, I had only spent £7.50 on these two items. But then something else happened….I came upon the footwear section and remembered that I NEEDED some sandals! I tried on a pair of £45 leather ones and decided that I would buy those too.
I was feeling ever so slightly nervous about the sandals. I knew I should have looked around to see if there was anything else suitable but cheaper. I decided to try New Look and, sure enough, they had a similar (but not leather) pair for £8.99. At this point I came to my senses and took the £45 pair back to the shop. They were nice, but not nice enough to destroy my carefully crafted budget and send me into an overdraft!
Of course, the M&S were better quality than my cheapie sandals and would last longer, but I will wait until July when the summer sales start and buy a decent pair then. That’s if I still feel I NEED them, of course. My last pair from New Look lasted 3 years!
How to stop yourself when you feel the urge to splash the cash
So, spending frenzy over, I got to thinking. What to do if you find yourself in a similar frame of mind surrounded by shops full of temptation? How can you fight the urge to splurge on those beautiful displays of tantalising goodies you never knew you wanted until that moment? Here are some things I (usually) do when I am possessed by the impulse to spend more money than I can afford.
Remind yourself of your long term goals – why are you trying to save money?
If you are impulse buying to make yourself feel better, ask yourself if this purchase will really cheer you up? Is it more likely to make you anxious in the long term?
Before you make a purchase more questions to ask: Do I REALLY want this? Do I actually need it? If I don’t buy it, will I care tomorrow?
Work out how many hours you would have to work to pay for whatever is tempting you.
Think about what else you could do with the money.
And a further question: ‘Could I get this, or something similar, more cheaply?’
If you desperately need a bit of retail therapy, visit a charity shop and give yourself a £5 limit.
Take a step back rather than immediately giving into your impulse purchase. Have a cup of tea or phone a friend. Sit in a café and write down your savings goals. Go home and allow yourself to return and purchase the item if you find you still need it after 24 hours. The chances are you won’t!
Long term ways to avoid a spending frenzy
The way I generally avoid impulse purchases is to avoid shopping centres unless I know what I am going to buy. I don’t go shopping for fun! Those marketing people know how to do their work on you once you are in their den. It is the same online. If you consciously decide to buy something on the internet, do your research. If you find something you want, you will soon find the best price by looking around.
For example, a few years ago I found a gorgeous pair of Hotter boots on a leaflet that came through the door. They were on offer on the Hotter website at £100 rather than £120. My old boots were pretty worn out so I could justify a purchase, but £100? I had a look on eBay and found the exact same pair at £60, brand new! I put in a cheeky offer of £50 and it was accepted. This was worth a little victory dance! I still have these boots – they are excellent quality and were a really good purchase.
When you are shopping, work out your budget in advance and take cash so that you don’t over spend. As Dave Ramsey says, it hurts much more to hand over physical notes than a piece of plastic. You cannot avoid knowing what you are actually spending.
If credit cards are your problem, cut them up. I used to have 4. I paid them all off and now I keep one, but not in my purse. It is in my knicker drawer and is for larger purchases where I want some insurance, such as when I am booking a holiday. I don’t use it unless I can immediately pay it off in full.
Know that you cannot spend your way to happiness
In my heart I know that buying stuff doesn’t make me happy. At best it gives me a little lift for a couple of hours. That satisfaction is no more or less than if I had found an item for a few pounds at a boot sale, for free in a skip or for £45 in M&S. Sometimes saying no is more satisfying that having as spending frenzy. I need to recognise and understand my triggers!
What about you? Have you given into impulse buying or gone on a spending frenzy lately?
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