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4 Effective Ways to Stop Falling Prey to Impulse Shopping

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Joanne Poh

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You did not plan to have an empty bank account any more than you planned to not win this year’s Toto Hongbao Draw. Despite our best intentions, we are often controlled by unknown forces.

Those who are prone to impulse spending seem to fall victim to more than their fair share of unknown forces. If you’re an inveterate impulse shopper, all you need to do is take two steps out of your home to suddenly find 20 shopping bags from Takashimaya attached to your arms.

Here are four ways to make yourself immune to impulse spending and buyer’s remorse.

 

Do not enter any shop without a shopping list

We all know the feeling of walking into Daiso to buy that one stapler, and emerging with 35 completely bizarre items.

Prevent unplanned purchases by only allowing yourself to walk into a shop when you have a shopping list. This means there must be something you plan to buy there that you can make a beeline for.

Whatever you do, don’t let yourself enter a shop only to browse aimlessly to “see if there’s anything you need”. The last time you did that, you managed to convince yourself you needed a new iPad case, five hipster notebooks and a drone.

Whenever you want to buy something that’s not on the list, follow the next step.

 

Force yourself to wait three days before making any unplanned purchases

A shopping fast can feel even worse than actual starvation because of the panic you feel when you tell yourself to put that item back on the shelf you took it from and back away slowly. Stopping yourself from buying something you’re convinced you desperately need is, well, stressful.

Save yourself the agony simply by telling yourself you’ll wait three days before making that purchase. In three days, if you still want it, you can come back and get it. You’ll be surprised by how much less anxious you’ll feel when you exit the shop empty-handed.

The magic is that, 9 times out of 10, you’ll completely forget the item existed within 30 seconds of leaving the shop.

 

Bring only the cash you need

Credit cards are a great thing thanks to the yummy benefits they offer—but only for those with the self-control to never overspend.

For those who find themselves constantly succumbing to impulse spending, it’s a good idea to leave the plastic at home and to only bring with you the amount of cash you need (and maybe a few bucks extra just in case.)

So when you head out for a coffee with a friend, you might want to give yourself just enough money for a drink and dessert, and for your transport fare back home. Going for lunch at Raffles Place in the middle of the work day? There’s no reason you need to take with you more than $15 in cash.

 

Avoid shopping malls like the plague

If you spend all your time in shopping malls, don’t be surprised if you keep buying stuff you don’t need. Just as alcoholics should stay out of bars, paedophiles should stay out of playgrounds and so on, you need to remove yourself from places which are designed to make you spend money.

Shopping malls are by far the worst places to hang out in if you want to save money. There are enough places with restaurants and bars that aren’t ensconced in air conditioned malls, so try to steer your posse towards those when you meet for your weekend brunches or after-work drinks.

How do you stop yourself from falling prey to impulse spending? Tell us in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.