How I Stopped Impulse Buying Random Crap and Clothes That I Didn't Need
DISCLAIMER: This has to be one of the most important posts that I write for 2018. Read in its entirety (5 minutes). Please do NOT shame yourself if you read this and then end up impulse buying clothes. Guess what? It’s OK. Know that you are just starting, which is good. Forgive yourself. Ask why. Then return it.
In 2012, I'd venture downtown at least three times a week to H&M, Forever21, and Old Navy. Then I'd catch the bus back to my dorm room with a bag filled impulse purchases.
With what money you ask? I have no idea.
Oh! I remember...I blew my entire savings (~$3,700) that my parents diligently committed to saving for extreme emergencies in college. Unfortunately, I thought that included replenishing 1-month-old sweaters for class and weekly outfits for my extra-curricular activities at nightclubs.
Fast forward to 2018, I no longer impulse buy clothes or other random crap that I don't need. Food and going out to eat is what I'll be tackling this year. But here's how I did it:
What's An Impulse Purchase?
"Impulse: a sudden strong and unreflective urge or desire to act." Yikes. The word UNreflective stung a little bit because no one proudly admits that they're like a bird constantly running into a glass door. But we do that when we don't stop, consciously think about what we are doing, and act in reality verses what appears to be reality. I define an impulse purchase as: a spontaneous and unplanned buy that lacked purpose but is often justified through false reasoning.
Again, if you started shaming yourself with woes of "Ugh! I freaking suck with money" or "I'm never going to get this because of lack self-discipline" then STOP. There is no purpose of walking down the road of self-pity and self-hatred. Let's get to the actual root of the problem and fix it for good.
1. Look At Your ACTIONS With Brutal HonestY
Don't think that you qualify as an impulse shopper or have a shopping addiction? Well, 5 out of 6 Americans admit to being a spontaneous spender and 20% of them admitted to spending at least $1,000 on impulse buys. That's insane you and actually very dangeous that we feel so out of control with money.
ACTION: Take a look at your bank statements over the last 2-3 months and highlight bills, utilities, groceries, and necessities. Then with a different highlighter, underline the remaining rows that contain random purcases (i.e. late night food cravings, last minute outfits, and justified purchases). Now calcuate how much you've spent and think about if that could have gone towards your student loan debt, a bill, giving to someone in need, or your savings.
2. Dig deep to the root of your spending
If you're freaking out at the amount of wasted money like I was then good, your reaction is normal but your actions must change. Now, stop and decide that no matter what that you will be more conscious of what, when, and why you are making ANY purchase. Even bills. Ask yourself: Why do I need Netflix and Hulu? What shows do I watch the most? How can I downsize to one account?
ACTION: Then go deeper and ask yourself the real questions: How much time do I honestly spend watching shows? What could I be doing with my time instead of watching another episode? Am I procrasting on working my goals? Do I truly believe in investing in my dreams?
Take a second and WRITE this down by hand. Seriously. It will blow your mind and you will quickly understand yourself to prevent overspending again.
3. Get clear on what you want and strategize how you'll get there
After you wrote down your answers, analyze your data. Did you realize that you actually bought that top to keep up with your spendy Instagram friends? Or maybe you watch these shows just to make conversation at work? Or you order Uber Eats every other night because you don't believe that eating healthier and exercising will really work for you?
All of these spontaneous purchases imply that you are operating out of insecurity and fear. You are insecure about where you are in life and create an illusion of being better off. You are fearful that your dreams won't actually work so you become lazy and self-sabatoge by not investing in your life vision. But you can actually break this cycle today.
ACTION: Write down exactly what you want in life without any limitations. Absolutely everything, even if it seems crazy and too out there. Maybe you've always wanted to write a book, launch that blog or business, start a YouTube channel, travel the world, work for a non-profit, or live a simplier life. Whatever your dreams are, write them down (yes, by hand).
If you are feeling lazy or overwhelmed then force yourself to start with #1 of this exercise. You don't have to get everything done all at once, in fact, I encourage you to break this up into 3 consecutive days. Same time for 3 days. Feeling hopeless? Well, you can choose to do the deeper work now or choose to continue overspending later. It's your choice for your life!
Here's some quick tangible tips on how to stop Impulse buying
- Budget your money for the day, week, or month in advance.
- List out needs verses wants. There's a HUGE difference.
- Only carry + use cash to purchase groceries, toiletres, and necessities that are under $250.
- Leave your debit card at home unless you're making a big purchase.
- Check on your money like you check for likes on your latest Instagram photo.
- Set a mandatory goal of having at least $250 in your checking account at all times. When your account hits $250 you CANNOT spend another penny.
- Bring always snack on the way to the grocery store to prevent hangry purchases.
- Eat food at home before you go to dinner