You Can’t Spend What You Don’t Have With You

A good friend of mine was discussing the weather with me, yea really…and now that spring has finally sprung around here (Utah is a couple month behind), she was telling me all the things they plan to do to their home and yard this year. I instantly mentioned how costly landscaping is ..hey I write a personal finance blog, what do you expect 🙂 ..and she told me, “Yea, my husband and I have to leave our wallets in the car when we go to such and such hardware store so we don’t buy anything we shouldn’t be buying”

I made a mental note of that and thought, that is a great idea! So, the leave wallet in the car savings method was born, at least in my mind.

You go to a store and leave you wallet in the car. Therefore you have no way of buying anything until you return to your car and get your wallet. Personally, that would be enough for me to just get in the car and drive away unless the purchase was completely necessary and already planned for. A few months back when I was quite a bit heavier, the walk alone in the heat of spring would have caused me to have to get in the car and take a breather anyway 🙂

The best part about this strategy is it forces you to think about what you are buying, which is not a common practice among most people. Is this purchase worth the effort to go out to my car and get my money, walk all the way back in and pay for it? Is it worth the shame? My wife get’s pretty embarrassed (don’t ask me, I have no idea 🙂 ) when she bumps into a store employee more than once during a shopping trip, I can’t imagine what she would feel like if she bumped into them, coming into the store twice in the same visit.

Not many things are worth that unless you actually plan on the purchase, and go to the store specifically to get it. I certainly wouldn’t march back and forth for a pack of gum.

So this system eliminates the possibility of impulse buying even on big purchases as it creates and takes the same amount of effort to buy anything.

Of course there is one flaw, when you get your wallet from the car, you may see something you like on your way out, or at the hardware store it could even be on the way in which is usually worse as those items outside are high ticket.

To eliminate or at least deter you from impulse buying a little bit more, what if we coupled this method with the sticky note reminder method? I can’t recall where I read this one, so if you read is some place else, drop me a comment and I’ll add it in here, but some people just put a sticky note on their credit cards that say something like, “Do you really need that purchase?” or ever something as loud as “DON’T DO IT!!!” and just seeing the note makes them think twice about the purchase they are about to make.

I guess it all comes down to your priorities though. Would any of these methods stop a shopping addict? I doubt it. But for those of us that are recovering addicts or simply are trying to get a better handle on our spending, simple reminders like this can be very effective.

What little tricks and methods do you use to discourage impulse spending?

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9 People have left comments on this post

» SquirrelersNo Gravatar said: { Jul 21, 2010 - 05:07:56 }

To discourage impulse spending, I think about much older people that I see who are still working to make ends meet, despite not having the same health or energy they had when younger. Really, this motivates me. I don't want to be in that position. Every dollar saved puts one closer to financial freedom, and out of a difficult situation later in life.

Also, I think of opportunity cost. If I spend $5 on some impulse buy, and do it every week, that's $260 over the course of the year. I could do a lot with that $260 – including saving some or maybe all of it.

Those two approaches work for me!

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jmichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Yikes, that thought alone is pretty scary. I would hate to have to take a job as a door greeter at Wal-Mart because I ran out of cash in retirement, very good point. Those little things do add up and push you away from comfortable retirement. Well put Squirrelers, and thanks for dropping by!

» Money BeagleNo Gravatar said: { Jul 22, 2010 - 06:07:14 }

Personally, I think that going into a store with a list and staying committed to that list is a good way to curb impulse spending. It doesn't eliminate it, as there often still is something that makes it into our carts that isn't on the list, but it definitely helps keep us focused and eliminate a lot of wasteful spending.

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jmichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

The list is great, but some people just can't commit! 🙂 It's like those perennial dieters that never lose any weight..

My wife and I do a double check before checking out at the store. The time it takes us to shop, and seeing the full cart at the end, helps us eliminate more things from our cart that are unnecessary. Thanks for stopping by!

» MFONo Gravatar said: { Jul 22, 2010 - 06:07:31 }

Great idea! Though I must admit, I feel naked without my wallet! I would also feel somewhat uncomfortable leaving my wallet in the car depending on where I am, but I travel into the city quite often…

I read a few months back a great way to stop impulse buying. If you really MUST have something.. wait 30 days, and if you still feel that way, then perhaps it may be a good buy.. If after 30 days you realize you could of done without it, you just saved yourself that impulse buy money:)

jmichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

hah I hear ya about certain areas..I leave my backpack with my laptop in it in the car from time to time and it really hangs on my mind until I get back and find it safe and sound. So to add to the method, leave your wallet in the car AND out of sight!

The 30 day method is great too, I have used that before but it usually turns into a 300 day wait since I do so much research before I buy…more on that in a later post 🙂

» Mrs. AccountabilityNo Gravatar said: { Jul 25, 2010 - 10:07:18 }

Taking only a set amount of cash into the store and leaving one's wallet in the car does seem like a very good deterrent to spending money on things we shouldn't spend. Having to walk back out to the car for more money would frustrate me enough that I would forget about the extra items. Although it might be frustrating if I really needed something I didn't have on my list. Definitely a good way to curb spending!
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jmichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Thanks Mrs. A! I've done this method a few times just to prove my point, and it is so annoying to have to walk back out but it certainly works 🙂 Thanks for dropping in!

{ Jul 25, 2010 - 11:07:27 } Yakezie Alexa Challenge Roundup

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