I stopped, I looked, I wanted – Fighting the Impulse to Blindly Consume

impulse shopping

I’m usually very good at shopping with a list, knowing exactly what I’m going to a store to get, and coming out with only those items. But every now and then, like this weekend, I’m assaulted by the “I want it now monster” and I’m forced to fight my way through the impulse. I have to fight the primitive “gimmie” portion of my mind and make the rational portion prevail. More often than not I succeed, but sometimes I fall and fall hard. So how did I do this weekend?

I went to Best Buy because I needed a new flash drive and they had the one I wanted on sale. Unfortunately, the computer stuff is in the back of the store, past all the fun DVD̵

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13 Responses to I stopped, I looked, I wanted – Fighting the Impulse to Blindly Consume

  1. Raven says:

    I don’t think that buying something that you’ve wanted ‘forever’ and which is on sale for a good price counts as an ‘impulse purchase.’ Yes, you hadn’t planned on buying that item, but it was on the ‘things I’d like one day’ you keep tucked in at the back of your mind. It’d be great if you can find it used for 50$ and go ‘ha!’ to your gimmemonster, but I don’t think this would have been a bad purchase for you since the money spent wouldn’t have inconvenienced you in the least.

  2. zenith says:

    I say “Good for You!” for struggling through this event and adding the $100 to your vacation fund.
    This is called “delayed gratification.” I’ll bet when you go on your vaction you will remember this and be happy with yourself for making the decision that you made.
    Yes, it was something you wanted for awhile and it was a good price, but, it would still have been an impulse buy since you had not “planned” to purchase it that day.
    The more we so “no” to ourselves the stronger we become in that department.

  3. sir jorge says:

    You make great points, it’s hard to not spend when you’ve got the funds…or even if you don’t, but have some credit.

  4. moneyglut says:

    What is wrong with all of you people? It’s no wonder that you can’t be happy. Money is meant to be spent. If it is something that will make you happy and you have it, spend it and make yourself happy. Spending hours thinking about whether it is worth getting something or not is wasted time of your life. Your time worrying is worth more than a lousy $50.

  5. Cortni says:

    I recently went through the same situation with a snowboard I wanted to buy. I planned on buying a used set for under $100, but I was having trouble finding one I liked. Then I found a brand new set for $270, which is cheap for a new snowboard set- plus it looked so nice. But even though $270 is cheap for a snowboard set, it’s also a lot of money in general. I debated for weeks and finally decided I don’t need to buy it now because the season is almost over and it might even be cheaper at the beginning of next year since it’s this year’s model. But it’s hard- I visited online probably a thousand times. I’ve found that I can be so disciplined in my spending sometimes, but there are just some things that really make it hard :)

  6. moneyglut!

    Those $50 purchases ad up over time, until individuals find themselves with thousands of dollars worth of consumer debt that they can barely make the payments on. Then they lose a job or some other circumstance arises and they can no longer meet their debt obligations, and are faced with a VERY stressful situation.

    Your right in once sense, if you’ve got the money spend it! That is the ultimate goal of most people with a financial plan. That learn to sacrifice now so that they can prosper in the future. For now though, most people reading financial blogs struggle with the urge to buy MORE than they can afford.

    Ben @ Trees Full of Money

  7. Wisepicker, personal finances says:

    That behaviour is called “compulsive”. It’s in the nature of the human race, we feel attracted by the product (and all the marketing techniques behind it) and then we are catched.

    I have to confess mea culpa, as I’m also a (currently under control) compulsive buyer, and have applied at least 5 out of 6 of the techniques that you enlist above.

    What I could humbly add to the list is to live (over any time or condition) by the firm rule of a Budget. It doesn’t have to be so complex, just a simple list with quantities on the right. It helps to keep focused and to stop the compulsive desire of buying what we don’t need immediately.

  8. Way to go! Sometimes I struggle with my impulses to buy some random item, even if it’s something that I’ve never even heard of before. But I have found if it at least wait a day or two before I buy I eventually come to my senses!

    Ben @ Trees Full of Money

  9. Efraim says:

    Why anyone should buy DVDs at all beats me. Just find someone that bought them (or a library) and borrow them. Once you buy those DVDs and watch them they WILL gather dust of course, what else?
    Same with most purchases: stuff that you don’t really need, bought because of peer pressure or silly advertisement or some other flimsy reason.
    I am personally very happy EVERY time I manage not to buy something that looks oh so inviting. I always consider NOT buying stuff a more gratifying result than nuying it.

  10. fractalbrothers says:

    tell the gimme monster that your tax return isn’t free money, it’s money you already earned and should be treated just like a paycheck.

  11. Maxine says:

    The netflix suggestion was the best solution of all. Even though you don’t own the dvd, once you see it; you’re usually satisfied with it. In reality, think about it… how many times do you look at the same dvd over and over…..

  12. Pingback: Taking Extreme Measures to Avoid Overwhelming Temptation To Spend - SavingAdvice.com Blog

  13. silver fox says:

    Great article. Having a strategy for dealing with impulse items is definitely smart. I especially liked your idea of ‘find another way to satisfy the gimmee monster’.

    I keep a ‘wish list’ of things I feel would make life better, and save towards those. If I see something else and impulsively want it, I ask myself whether I want it more than the top item on my wish list. Usually the answer is no, especially after I’ve thought about it and procrastinated until the impulse passes. Procrastination can be a good thing! I tell myself I’ll buy it another time, then I forget why I even wanted it. There’s a strong feeling of freedom in walking out of the store WITHOUT that impulse item.

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