Look up ‘impulse purchases’ online and you might well see my name somewhere in its definition.
Case in point: I’ve just got back from seeing friends in Brixton and popped into one of my favourite shops, TKMaxx, to pick up a pair of white trainers.
Only I didn’t return with white trainers in my bag; I came back with one rainbow t-shirt, a pair of black trainers, a pair of converse type boots, some black boots and a milk jug. Everything but white trainers.
I got distracted you see; distracted by the shiny object – or rather objects – and it seems to happen once too often. The problem is, I’ve been trying to declutter at home; my mantra being “declutter the home, declutter the mind”, but then I go back out and just “have to have” that new jug/new tee/new cutlery set – and it’s usually because it’s either on sale or a fab bargain that I simply can’t refuse.
Don’t get me wrong; sometimes it’s nice to go out and treat yourself, but when do impulse purchases become a problem? Well, usually when you’re in debt and if it’s a habit rather than a once-in-a-while treat.
Beware of payday purchases
According to a survey by Post Office Money and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), a third of people double their spending on non-essentials on payday. And a significant number of others dip into their savings to cover costs.
The poll found that the average number of (unplanned) purchases totalled two each week – and you can see why, with the likes of discount offers flooding the inbox – something I’m guilty of being distracted by on a daily basis.
Mind you, I’ve got some great purchases in the last few weeks; hairpin furniture legs and an Escape Room family ticket off Groupon and a wonderful retro plant base from Amazon that caught my eye. Okay, so I didn’t NEED these items, but I don’t regret buying them.
I think impulse purchases are fine as long as you’ve got an eye on your finances and know when to stop. If you can’t go out without spending money on unnecessary items then it’s probably fair to suggest that you don’t go out at all.
Could you do the ‘no-spend’ idea?
I know some families who do a ‘no spend’ month, which I think is a great idea. They’ll buy food and the non-perishable household essentials of course, but little else.
So there’s no new clothes or shoes, no takeaway food or eating out, no going out to socialise, no cinema trips or magazine purchases…just the essentials. If you ask me, it sounds like a bore, BUT if I was severely in debt then I’d be prepared to forgo a lot of life’s little luxuries that most of us take for granted in order to get myself back in the black.
Some families even use the whole extreme couponing thing to save pennies – thrifty kings and queens as I like to call them. My mum is one of these.
Once she suggested that my brother and I save money on our petrol as one of the independent branches was offering some of the cheapest petrol in the southeast. Then my brother pointed out that the petrol station was about 20 miles away and that by the time you’d driven over there and back, you’d actually end up spending more than you’d save. That did make me laugh.
But if you want a thrifty find, my mum is the queen of finding a bargain. And I do rely on her for finding me things like the best value mobile phone package/MOT place/travel insurance* (anything is insertable*) – and she always comes up trumps.
Beware the impulse triggers!
Going back to the impulse buys, if it’s in your blood then another pull factor is the mobile phone. I’ve lost track of the number of times that Instagram (and social media in general) plus new offers flashing up on my screen have lured me into making a quick impulse purchase.
Again, I’m not alone – the aforementioned survey found that nearly one in 10 (8%) people admit they find it difficult to browse online without spending money.
If you’re skint, turn off the phone notifications so that you can’t get sidetracked. Your bank balance will thank you for it. Instead, if you need that quick fix, clear out your cupboards!
It’s my one piece of good advice I can offer; it’s what I do and it always surprises me what I end up finding that I had forgotten I had bought. Places to look include the loft, under the stairs, unused kitchen drawers, toy baskets/boxes and chests etc..
It’s a bit like shopping in your own home without a screen – and of course without having to dip into your pockets to spend anything – a win-win. Try it sometime – and thank me later. 😉