Look around. How much of what you own, do you use? And how many things are lying unused since you bought them. Do you feel like you don’t do justice to those items? Not to mention the feeling of regret because you know that you could have put the money to better use.
You are not alone. A study reported that 80 percent people bought something on an impulse in the previous year two thirds of whom regretted it. Naturally, this phenomenon is called impulse buying.
Beatty and Ferrell defined Impulse Buying as “a sudden and immediate purchase with no pre-shopping intentions either to buy the specific product category or fulfill a specific buying task.” They further elaborated that the behavior tends to be spontaneous, without much reflection. However, impulse buying does not include the purchase of an item which is out-of-stock at home.
Saving money is in Indian genes. Our elders have taught us to lead simple lives and not own what we don’t need. Hence, the effects of impulse buying are more pronounced on us. When we impulsively buy something, we regret it later.
It’s good. Feeling guilty means that we are open to unlearning bad habits and implementing good ones. So if you want to feel better by avoiding impulse buying, here are a few steps which will help you.
- Apply the 30-Day Rule The 30-day rule states that you must put a decision on hold for one month. At the end of 30 days, take stock and decide whether you want to do it. So make a rule: You can only buy necessities immediately. For anything else, wait 30 days before buying. Put a list on your refrigerator. When you feel the urge to buy something, put it on the list along with that date. After 30 days, you can buy the item. More often than not, you won’t. Because the urge to own it has passed. If you follow this rule, you overcome the negative effects of impulse buying in two ways: First, you control impulsive buys. This helps you save money. Second, you notice how impulsive you are, and curb those instincts. This makes you more self assured and confident.
- Check email twice a day With the explosion of ecommerce sites, retail shopping has dropped. Most purchases are online unless you visit a mall and go crazy because the shirt (or top) that you never wanted is on sale. Most ecommerce sites bombard us with emails about non existent offers and lure us to buy what we don’t need. Renowned author Tim Ferriss checks emails only twice a day – at 11 AM and at 4 PM. Try the same. It increases your productivity since distractions are eliminated. Also, because you check emails just twice a day, you focus on the important emails and ignore the rest. Ecommerce direct emails are inessential emails. The more you ignore them, the less you buy what you don’t need online.
- Reduce visits to malls Each time I walk through a mall, I feel tempted to buy something. The displays and layouts of their stores are amazing! We often make impulsive buying decisions when we are in a shopping area. So instead of going to a mall to do your monthly shopping, visit an independent hypermarket. On weekends, watch Netflix instead of visiting theaters and malls. It’s cheaper. Or order food at home. Even better, cook WITH your partner. Find creative ways to have fun rather than crowding the streets and spending at malls.
- Install an expense tracker app Expense tracking apps like Money View help you to keep a tab on how much you spend. They send daily notifications and let you track where you spent your money. Install an app on your phone. When you notice how much you spend, you will curb your urge to buy impulsively. Monitoring your urges is the first step to overcoming the habit of impulse buying.
- Install an ad blocker Brands have figured ways of tempting us to buy through social media. So install a Facebook ad blocker for your browser (here is one for Chrome). Using it, you will simply browse your friends’ status updates and not view ads. You can do the same for other social media platforms. Na rahega baans na bajegi bansuri.
It is good to be self-aware in life. It allows you to keep a tab on where you are going versus where you want to go. The same self-awareness is important for your money. You don’t want to own so many unnecessary things, that you don’t have money for the things and experiences which make you happy. So refrain from being a spendthrift. Instead, invest money so that you form a habit of saving and respecting it. Over time, things you don’t need will occupy less space. And you will have more space for experiences that are worth cherishing.
Vishal is the founder of Aryatra, a venture to help individuals improve their productivity and live more fulfilled lives. He also is a digital marketing consultant helping businesses generate revenue from their online presence.