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Put Purchases on a Time Delay to Ice Your Impulse Buys

woman looking at an outfit she'd like to buy
nd3000/Shutterstock

Impulse buying might not seem like a big deal, but the money you spend adds up. Cut down on impulse purchases by putting them on a delay.

Separate Your Needs from Your Wants

Needs and wants are two different things but are also easy to confuse. We need food; we want snacks. We need clothes on our backs, but we want the latest fashions. You might want that candy bar or a cute kitchen towel set for the Christmas season, but do you need either one?

Separating wants and needs is also about realizing what you need right now. Yes, you need food, but if your freezer and refrigerator are still somewhat full, do you need to get groceries this week? No, not really. Perhaps you need a couple of items, so make sure you go to the store with a list and stick to that list.

Make a Cooldown List for Your Wants

Once you’ve figured out your wants and needs, you can make a list of the items you want. Just because you don’t need them doesn’t mean you can’t ever get them. The key to saving money–and not facing the buyer’s regret that often follows impulse buys—is to make a cooldown list of the items you want.

What’s a cooldown list? You put things on the list that you really want right this minute (but don’t need), and then you don’t buy them. Later, you look at the list and decide if you still want any item after some time has passed, or if it was just an impulsive desire.

By cultivating a cooldown list habit, you give yourself time to determine how much you need the items you want. Maybe you want a new laptop, but the one you have still works fine. Put that on your list, but get more use out of what you have before dropping a few hundred bucks.

Revisit your list monthly. Move anything that has become a need, like that laptop now that your old one quit working, to your need list. Cross off anything you don’t want anymore. Add new items. Your cooldown list is also a great place to look for gift ideas when someone asks what you want for your birthday, or as a place to find where to spend gift money and tax returns.

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow has been a professional writer for almost two decades. Yvonne has worked for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and much more as a writer and editor. She's also a published poet and a short story writer. Read Full Bio »

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