Avoiding Impulse Spending

Want to cut your spending, yet still enjoy yourself? I’ve got two methods that will both lift your spirits and keep money in your pockets. So get yourself a pen and paper. You’ll need to do some writing.

The first is a method older than Moses: Fasting. Seriously. Stick with me on this.

The second is something I like to call “charity tax,” but we’ll get to that soon.

First, the fast.

If you’re one to try new things – and I’ve heard things as silly as freezing your credit cards in a cup of ice – fasting can quickly stand alone as the only tool in your kit.

Make a simple rule for yourself: No spending money on Wednesdays.

That’s just an example. It could be any day, or days. You could commit to only spending money on weekends. No spending before 6 p.m. Or on alternate weeks. Whatever.

The key is discipline.

Get yourself a friend to confide in. Say “can you help me with this?” and tell them every time you break your rule – though hopefully that won’t happen.

The great thing about monetary fasting is that it can build the very type of discipline that will help you for life. Consider it a sacrifice for a loved one, your family, whomever.

The second method – “charity tax” – can be used right along with fasting, or can be used on its own.

Say you did try out the “no spending on Wednesday” rule. And, yet, you saw this really great-looking shirt on sale at Sears, and you just couldn’t pass it up. It was the last one in stock for Pete’s sake! Oh – but it was on a Wednesday.

Ugh. What to do?

Well, break your rule – but do it for a price.

Pick a charity. Something close to your heart. And promise yourself that, each time you break your rule, you’ll give $10 to that charity. Or, you’ll give a percentage of your purchase to that charity. Or whatever.

If you want to apply the rule without the fasting, just agree that every dollar you spend on yourself (perhaps excluding groceries, gas, essentials, etc.), you will give 20 or 30 or 40 cents to charity. Be sure to keep your tally, and your promise.

That way, two good things happen:

1. Your impulse spending becomes way more expensive than you want it to be. (that 30 percent off sale doesn’t seem to matter anymore, eh?)

2. When you do it anyway, a charity benefits from it.

Here’s where you need the pen and paper I asked you to get.

To use these methods, the single most important thing that has to happen is for you to write down your goal or goals. Until you write it down, you have no reason to commit to it. It’s a psychological thing.

So do it.

What can you handle?

No spending money on Friday? No spending money at lunchtime? A $15 donation for every $50 you spend on shoes?

It’s up to you. But write it down. Then, share it with someone. That support from your friend, sibling or spouse could mean the world. Log every time you break your rule. That too – if you stay true to it – will help you stay on track.

The other thing you need is persistance. My advice is to pray for it.

And if you’ve read this far, you get a closing pearl of wisdom: Thank God for what you’ve got. If you’ve eaten today, if you’ve got a roof over your head – you’re on a computer, so I assume you do – and if you’ve got anyone who loves you, those should matter more than anything you could ever buy. The more you realize how blessed you are, the more you’ll realize that you don’t need more stuff.

May God bless you as you try to overcome impulse buying.