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Personal finance

Surviving the unexpected: How to manage impulse spending

September 26, 2022

When you’ve just bought your 6th pair of jeans in a week, you’ll probably have to tighten your belt soon. Here are 5 golden rules to avoid impulse spending traps.

1. Beware of super sales

Clearance sales, liquidations and boxing-day-type promotions all tend to send impulse buys through the roof. We suddenly need something we were doing just fine without a few days ago. We need to differentiate between wants and true needs, because it’s all too easy to succumb to temptation.

Pause before ordering

After adding an item to your online shopping cart, wait a few days before placing your order to see if you’re still thinking about it a little, a lot, intensely—or not at all!

2. Set a spending range

When you put a strict limit on your spending, you might find yourself spending every last cent that falls within your budget. How many unnecessary purchases have you rationalized, because you didn’t go over your budget? A better idea: set a spending range (say, between $50 and $100) and stick to what’s on your list. If there’s money left after you’ve done your shopping, great! You can put it aside for emergencies. And you won’t find yourself with another set of vanilla-scented candles you don’t really need.

1 impulse buy = X hours of work

The idea is simple: convert the price of the gadget or designer bag you’re coveting to how many hours you’ll need to work to buy it. The results might surprise you.

3. ­Beware of your “weaknesses”

We all have an affinity for certain things. For some, it might be clothes or shoes, another video game. Or maybe your thing is kitchen gadgets. Only you know your weaknesses, so the next time you’re tempted to take a quick peek at what’s on your favourite store’s website, think twice. Out of sight, out of mind!

Manage your subscriptions

If your inbox is flooded with promotions from your favourite brands, hit the “unsubscribe” button to minimize temptation.

4. Use free returns

Many retailers offer free in-store and mail returns, so take advantage. Before removing the tags and throwing away the packaging and receipts, ask yourself if you really need what you just bought. Something purchased on a whim that’s not returned within a few days is very likely to end up on a second-hand site sooner or later. The secret is to act fast.

5. Clear your cookies

Businesses use cookies to target you based on your browsing habits and encourage you to fill your shopping cart. Don’t be tempted by these targeted ads; simply delete your cookies so they can’t track your browsing history.

Before placing an order, ask yourself if you really need and can afford it. It’s a good way to stay in control of your finances.

Desjardins is here for you

Our advisors are always available to answer your questions and help you draw up a budget that meets your needs.