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How to avoid impulse spending all year long

Avoid impulse shopping
Avoid impulse shopping
www.flickr.com/derekkaye

Temptation is everywhere! Even the most budget-conscious shopper can be easily sidetracked by the colorful decorated displays, beautifully wrapped merchandise and fun gadgets that line store shelves. Retailers know what they’re doing with their shiny "percent off" signs hanging in the air and their amazing BOGO deals. They’re making us spend more money than we have.

Whether you're shopping for groceries, gifts, clothing or something else, you can learn how to avoid those impulse purchases that have a way of breaking the budget. By preparing yourself ahead of time, you’ll be less likely to spend unnecessarily. Here are some tactics that you can use to fend off over spending.

Get in and get out – The longer you linger in a store, the more money you’ll spend. The best defense is to get what you need and leave the store immediately. Many of us get caught up in the shopping atmosphere of the store. However, the more time you spend lingering, the more likely you are to make purchases that won't seem like much sense once you get them home.

How will you pay the bill? – If you catch yourself whipping out the credit card on a whim, stop and ask myself, "How long will it take me to pay for this?" If you’re about to spend a few hundred dollars on clearance items or clothing for next season, thinking long term may help put things into perspective. The best remedy for this problem, however is a bit more drastic. Which brings us to our next tip.

Don't carry credit cards - Even when you have all intention of not using a credit card, it’s easy to be weakened at the store. A small five dollar purchase here or there won’t add up to much, after all. At least that's what you tell yourself. But at the end of the day, you tally up your receipts to find you’ve added another $ 200 to your credit card balance. Leave the credit cards at home, and you won’t have the opportunity to use them.

Avoid the temptation of getting more credit – It seems harmless enough. Cashiers at every store you shop in greet you with the offer to “Save an extra 20% on today’s purchase by applying for a store credit card.” While it is tempting to cash in on the instant savings consider this – In a few months, when you really do need to get credit for something else, those applications you filled out during your last shopping trip will come back to haunt you. Every time you apply, an inquiry shows on your credit report. This can reduce your chances of getting credit later on, or at the very least, it will increase the APR you pay on a loan. Loan officers pay attention to the inquiries on your credit report to tell them how many new bills you will soon have rolling in. Don't fall for the trap.

Would I want this for myself? - When shopping during the holidays, there are really neat gadgets that are gift wrapped for your convenience. You can find these items usually on an end cap at the end of an aisle, or on a table in a heap. Any other time of the year we wouldn't pay any attention to these types of things, but during the holidays.....we're suckered in. So, take a moment and ask yourself, "Would I want to receive this as a gift?" Chances are the answer will be no.

See how much you’re overspending – If you’re like me, you are horrible at sticking to a shopping list. Yet, it really is a smart way to avoid impulse shopping. Before you go shopping, write up and list and offer yourself a consequence for straying from the list. This consequence will help to visualize the amount you are overspending. Here’s how: Drop a dollar in a jar at home for every item you bring home that wasn’t on the list. After a week, you’ll be able to see just how many things you buy that you didn’t need.

Keep in mind that there are some occasions when impulse spending is a good thing. Every year there are those few items that sell like crazy, but you can never find in the store. Remember the Furby craze? Or the Tickle Me Elmo doll? If you are at a store, and you happen to find the hot item of the year, buy it! You'll have no trouble getting rid of it, and if you play your cards right you may even be able to make a little profit on it.

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