The Get Rich Slowly blog recommends using the 30-day rule to stop yourself from an impulse buy. If you're anything like me, you waste countless hours drooling over the Lululemon website, envisioning yourself prancing around in the new Reveall collection leggings with that new bag on your shoulder. In an effort to curb my appetite for overpriced athletic clothes that i'll never workout in, I tried using the 30 day rule of saving money.
Heres how it works:
- Whenever you feel the urge to splurge — whether it's for new shoes, new clothes, or a new car — force yourself to stop. If you're already holding the item, put it back. Leave the store. (This especially hurts.)
- When you get home, take a piece of paper and write down the name of the item, the store where you found it, and the price. Also write down the date.
- Now post this note someplace obvious: a calendar, the fridge, a bulletin board.
- For the next thirty days, think whether you really want the item, but do not buy it.
- If, at the end of a month, the urge is still there, then consider purchasing it. (But do not use credit to do so.)
Now I'm not a big impulse spender, but something about the holiday season really makes me want to throw cash around. Sales, deals, and bogo promotions really test my self control when it comes to clothing items. After using the 30 day rule, I found that the easiest way to test and hone my willpower is to force myself to wait. A friend uses something I call the "$100 Rule." When she has the urge to buy something that costs $100 or more, she forces herself to wait at least a week. This way, she has time to think about whether or not she actually wants the thing or if she's just being impulsive. Adjust the numbers to suit your own budget. Maybe you're flat broke and even a $25 purchase will set you back. Change it to the $25 rule. Or, maybe, you're ballin' and $100 is nothing to you. Cool, then make it the $1,000 rule.
The point is just to give yourself time to make a conscious spending decision that fits your budget. Bonus: when you wait, you also give yourself time to look for deals or discounts.
Impulse spending isn't always as expensive as Lululemon leggings, though. Sometimes it's lipstick at the cash register or a new phone case on Amazon. For small purchases like these, I follow the 10/10 Rule. If I'm thinking about buying something that's $10 or less, I don't spend more than 10 minutes thinking about it. If the item costs more than $10, and I'm still not sure, it goes back on the shelf. No matter what. It's basic, I know, but for those impulse items, it works fairly well. Again, you can adjust the numbers to suit your own situation.
In trying to exercise your willpower, you also don't want to burn yourself out on it. Part of exercising your willpower is understanding your limits. No one has an unlimited supply of willpower. That said, you probably have more than you think, it just takes learning to build it, which can be especially hard when it comes to money. These tips are harder to implement because they focus on restraint, but in the long run, they'll probably pay off more (literally).