4 ways to stop overspending on impulse purchases

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June 27, 2018

There was a time in my life where I rarely walked out of a store without something purchased in hand. Sometimes it was something that I had gone into the store to intentionally purchase. But most of the time it wasn't. Whether a big item or small, I always felt the need to swipe my card and carry something out with me. It was a combination of a little bit of shopping FOMO and a whole lot of wishful thinking about how much money I actually had. Eventually, though, I snapped out of it (hello, 12,000+ dollars in credit card debt), and stopped spending money on impulse purchases.

Here are my top 4 tactics for cutting out the impulse overspending:

Make a budget (and stick to it)

One of the top 10 reasons I used to overspend was simply because I had no idea how much money I actually had in my account. I consistently overestimated how much I actually had so I would just buy random things here and there thinking I had all the money in the world to spend. I didn't. Cue overdraft fees, galore. But hey, turns out - when you know how much money you actually have in your account, you're far less likely to spend it on things you don't actually need. Make a budget, stick to it, and stop wasting money on that $5 chapstick in the checkout line at Target when you've already got 3 others as the bottom of your purse or in your car.

Carry only the amount of cash you need

I'm a firm believer that one of the best ways to stay on budget and not overspend is to purchase things with cash. I've talked about this before and there are a few reasons for this:

1. You're actually able to SEE how much money you have in front of you. Nothing holds you more accountable than physically looking at what you have to spend. 

2. You're less likely to overspend because when your money runs out...it literally runs out, making it difficult to keep shopping. 

3. You FEEL spending when you use cash vs. a card, so you're more likely to think through the purchase you're about to make rather than impulse spending. When you pay for something with cash, the pain sensor in your brain is triggered. When you pay for something with a card, NOTHING in your brain is triggered. This is an instance where no pain, no (financial) gain really does make sense.

Give yourself permission to spend

Believe it or not, you get to spend money on things you want even while living on a budget. A budget just gives you boundaries, which in turn actually gives you freedom. Creating a line item in your budget for spending or entertainment or clothing will actually keep you on budget and keep you from overspending in the long run. If you cut yourself off cold turkey from spending all together you'll likely have a panic attack one day and go and spend $300 on workout clothes (hi, hello - been there, done that.) Giving yourself the permission to spend will not only keep you from spend-snapping, but it will also allow you to feel more in control of your money.

Remember your goals

And last but not least, the best way to stay on task and not overspend is to remember your goals. Remember what you're working toward in the first place and you'll be far more inclined to spend your hard-earned monies on an impulse buy you don't need or actually want. Whether you're working your way out of debt or saving up for a new car, you've worked too hard to throw off your budget for those llama-shaped chip clips.