Every Wednesday is Financial Tips Day at Zen Habits.
Do you have a problem with impulse spending? If so, the first step to controlling it is monitoring your urges. Make it a goal to monitor and track your spending urges over the next week or two.
Keep a small notebook handy, and every time you get an urge to buy something, practical or not, put a little tally in the notebook. Tally every urge, whether it is to buy something online, or at a store, looking at a catalog, thinking about that new iPod while at your desk, or even if it's multiple urges to buy the same item.
Whether you buy the item or not, just keep track of the urges. Many times the urges are subconscious. You won't be able to control your spending if you're not aware of it.
Some other tips, beyond this first step, for controlling impulse spending:
- Avoid the mall or Walmart other shopping areas. Just going there practically guarantees you'll buy something on impulse. Do something outdoors or at home instead.
- If you have to go shopping, go with a list. And stick to the list. Tell yourself that anything not on the list is strictly verboten.
- Keep a 30-day list. If you have an urge to buy something, make it a rule that you have to first write it on your 30-day list. If, at the end of those 30 days, you still want it, then you can buy it (if you have the money). Just the act of putting it on the list (awareness) and forcing yourself to wait (delay) can make a big difference.
- Breathe. And drink water. This delay can help you get past your urge.
- Find other things to do with your friends or family. Do you hang out with people who love to shop as a pastime? Encourage them to do something else. Go outside, to a park, to the beach. Have a potluck dinner at home. If your friends refuse to change, you may want to give some thought to who you hang out with, if you have different values.
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