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Impulse buys happen to all of us. You’re in a store or on a shopping website, and you see something you really want to buy. It’s a new release of software you own, an expensive pair of shoes marked down to half price, or a miter saw that will work way better than the 15-year-old one you currently own.

You know you want it. Do you need it, though? You’ve already pledged to save money for an emergency fund. This purchase will make a dent in that fund.

But if you want it, that means you need it, right? Of course not. Wanting and needing are two different things. You realize this. Nevertheless, sometimes you can’t help yourself. But the pull of emotions can be strong. If you are emotionally drawn to your fantasy purchase…


Marketing experts love impulse buyers. But you have priorities besides pleasing marketing experts. You might have a good reason to make that purchase, but emotions can betray you into making poor decisions.

How can you tell if a purchase is a necessity or an impulse buy?

Try the 30-day rule. Here’s how it works:

Identify the purchase that might be an impulse buy.

If you run out of toothpaste, you have to buy another. Toothpaste is not expensive. Therefore, the purchase is not an impulse buy. If you run across a boxed set of vinyl records for music that you already own on compact disc, and the vinyl set costs $450, then you likely are dealing with an impulse purchase.

Leave the premises.

Go home, or close your browser.

Make a 30-day list.

Get a piece of paper and label it “30-Day List.” Write the name of your desired purchase on the paper with that day’s date. Put the list somewhere conspicuous — near your computer or on your fridge. In this way, you have promised yourself to buy the object. The happy feelings this purchase would have given you may remain, and you will not feel so deprived.

Set the money aside.

Put the amount of money you could have spent on that purchase into a savings account. If you don’t have that amount of money, the list has already helped you avoid impulse shopping.

Wait 30 days.

If you didn’t have the money for your desired purchase, try to save that amount during this time. And do some research on the thing you wanted to buy. Find out, for example, if that new software release is any good.

Re-evaluate the purchase.

When the 30 days have passed, return to the list. Decide if you still want to make the purchase. Your emotional connection may have been tempered by the reality of your financial situation, your true needs, or your research.

Your list will save you from an impulse purchase, a poor use of money. And the cash you put into your savings account can be used toward another financial goal.

Or, you might decide you need that purchase after all, and you have put aside the money.

Either way, you win.

This article is provided by EveryIncome.

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