Reader Q&A: How Do You Control Your Impulse Spending?

by Kelly · 3 comments

in Tell Us Tuesday


A Facebook friend asked me an interesting question the other day.

How do you keep yourself from buying random things and going off budget? I’m always coming home with things that I never really meant to go out and get. But in the store I think, “Oh, that is a good price” or “Oh, I need that and didn’t think of it before”. That kind of stuff. The having a list helps, but doesn’t always neutralize the impulse shopper in me. Any other tips?

I hear you! I have a hard time controlling my impulse buys, and have for many years, even after trying and trying to learn to be more frugal. I think that it takes a lot of practice to not buy things on impulse.

I’m greatly helped by the fact that the culture of spending and buying is much less prevalent in France than in the United States, although that may have changed now with the recession. There are fewer opportunities to spend (stores aren’t open as late, nor on Sunday), and there aren’t as many credit cards being pushed on people.

I also try to have ‘no-spend’ days where I don’t spend any money at all. Along with that comes the days where I try to plan my spending- I know that I want to buy XY&Z (new fall clthes for my daughter, for example), and so I head out on a certain day to buy them. But I don’t try to plan too much, other than giving myself a general limit and having a general idea of what I want to buy. By trying to have a mix between planned and not too planned, I hope to be able to keep my spending a bit under control.

Being frugal takes practice and I’ll be the first to admit that I’m far from perfect!

Your turn: What advice do you have for Rachel? How do you keep a lid on impulse purchases? Do you shop from a list? Have no spend days?

And if you would like to ask the other readers of Almost Frugal a question, don’t hesitate! Just drop me a line!


1 Jessica September 7, 2009

I’m an artist and a crafter, so I’m always making things. If I see something while shopping that I just HAVE to have, I’ll often examine it to see how it’s made. Then I tell myself I can make one, and probably for less. Just telling myself that helps me not buy it, and chances are I forget about it by the time I get home. If it’s something that I end up really “needing” after all, I can either make it or go back for it. If it’s not worth the effort, I don’t really need it after all. If you’re not into making things, try telling yourself you can come back for it later, or find it online for less. I’ve cut quite a bit of spending by bargain shopping online, and the time it takes to research a price can serve as a cool down period.

2 Rachel September 9, 2009

The cooling off period is a good idea. I used to do that more and I’ll have to start again. Another thing I let go by the wayside recently is the Priority List. I put on it the big ticket items that I need or want (new roof, computer, newer car, file cabinet, etc). It’s easier to resist impulse buying if I know that I have other goals. It’s helped me put off buying an iPod for at least a year. I know I wouldn’t use it nearly as much as I think I would and I’d pay more for downloading songs that it would be worth. I think you are right, Kelly, it’s all about practice!

3 Denise C. September 22, 2009

I struggle with impulse buys ALL THE TIME. It drives my husband CRAZY. Weaknesses: magazines, food stops for the Munckins….the dollar spot at Target. (Why must they have cute stuff over there?- For suckers like me!)
I actually had a really bad addiction to, and had to delete the site from my computer, I adore books and would buy them DAILY.
I have been getting better though, we recently purchased a home, and I know I’d like to have money for paint, hardware and other fun house stuff! 🙂

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