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How to curb impulsive spending habits

How to curb impulsive spending habits

Are you in the habit of impulsive spending? Do you often find you've got a lot less cash to spare at the end of the month than you thought? It's time to reconsider your money habits to curb your impulsive expenses. 
You don't have to cut out life's luxuries, either - in fact, working on your must-have-it-now tendencies will leave you with MORE spare cash to invest in the things you REALLY want. 
Here's how to curb your impulsive spending habits - without feeling like you're missing out. 

Freeze your credit card 

We don't mean calling your credit card company. Although, if you have several cards, it might be worth shifting all balances to one 0% interest offer card if you can. That's purely to save on interest payments, though. It also doesn't mean you can suddenly spend more on your newly empty card! 
What we mean by freezing your credit card is - quite literally - freezing it. Put your card in a sandwich bag with some water. Stick it in the freezer. If you want to be super-savvy, wrap the card in a paper towel first too - that way you won't try squinting through the ice to read the details. Doing this forces you to decide whether you really need to make a purchase. You need to wait for the ice to defrost, meaning you have time to think carefully about buying. 

Unlink payment cards online 

The modern version of this tactic, however, is also worth your time. You may have payment details stored retailer accounts. Even Google can save your payment information if you want. That's before we look at smart tech like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, where you can make purchases with your smartphone or smartwatch. 
Take time to unlink all of your payment cards from every online account you can think of. It'll take an afternoon to list everything and go through them all - but it can really make a difference. While you're at it, think about the apps you have on your phone, too. Do you want to spend less on takeaways, for example? Delete Deliveroo! (And remove One-Click Buy from places like Amazon, too). 

Seek therapy to identify your 'why' 

Impulsive spending is a hugely common habit - but people do it for many different reasons. They might have previously had more spare cash to spend and developed a spending habit. Or, they spend for an emotional boost. Others spend to make people happy, such as giving gifts. Some have a 'keeping up with the Joneses' impulse - driven by social media 'influencers' making them feel inadequate. 
Finding out why you overspend or spend impulsively is key to curbing your expensive habit. The best way to do this is through therapy. These days, it's not about lying back on a couch in a stuffy office, either! You can access therapy online, over the phone, or even by email. Individual therapy is a great thing to do for your overall wellbeing - but if you want to find out why you're an impulsive spender, your therapist can help you dig into that specific part, too. 
Image with a number of shopping bags

Separate your spending pot 

Impulsive spending leads to debt. If you're already in debt, focus on stopping your unnecessary spending altogether so you can pay off your loans, credit cards, and overdraft. This is better for your mental health as it'll stop you falling into an overwhelming debt-stress cycle. 
However, if you've realised your spending isn't yet putting you into debt, now's a good time to start managing it well. Instead of spending from your main bank account, set up a separate pot (or even bank account) that's just for your extra expenses. 
Work out a budget for the month - set aside your essentials such as rent or mortgage payments, food bill, utilities, phone and internet, and travel costs. Set a further amount aside - say 20% - for emergency costs. Pop 10% in a savings account. Whatever is left - that's your 'fun money'. Shift this into your spending account! 

Impose a 24-hour rule to stop impulsive spending 

Therapy will help you consider your spending behaviour and your 'why' - but you need a way to actively stop spending excessively, too. The best way to do it is in two steps: 
First: ask yourself, "Do I need it or do I want it?". This helps you define whether your purchase is a necessity, or if you're spending for a different reason (such as to cheer yourself up, make someone else happy, or find validation in material things). 
Second: don't buy immediately. Give yourself at least 24 hours to consider the purchase. Do this for both online shopping and when you're visiting bricks-and-mortar stores. If you're in a shop and think 'well, I don't want to come all the way back tomorrow' - you don't want the item enough, anyway! 
Pausing before you buy will help you decide if you really need to make the purchase, or if there are other things you can do instead of spending.  

Sell your stuff 

This might feel counter-intuitive, but trust us, it works. Take a weekend to sort through ALL of your clutter. Under the bed, in the wardrobe, clear the attic and the garage. You'll be surprised at how much stuff you already have. Sort your items into Keep, Donate, and Sell piles. 
Doing this works on impulsive spending on a few levels. Firstly, it helps you rediscover things you've already got - you might find a dress you'd forgotten all about, instead of the one you've been eyeing up in the sales. Secondly, you'll feel better for clearing your clutter - an emotional burden we often don't realise we have. Thirdly, you might feel shocked when you realise just how much 'stuff' your impulsive spending habit has gathered over time.  
Finally, it provides you an opportunity to recoup some of the cost of your impulsive spending habit. You can choose to do two things with the cash raised from selling your unwanted stuff: put it in your 'spending only' account, or save up for something you really want in the future. It's up to you! 
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Disclaimer: MoneyMagpie is not a licensed financial advisor and therefore information found here including opinions, commentary, suggestions or strategies are for informational, entertainment or educational purposes only. This should not be considered as financial advice. Anyone thinking of investing should conduct their own due diligence.

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