Jan 26, 2024

Controlling Impulsive Spending

Controlling Impulsive Spending

What is impulsive spending?

Impulsive spending refers to making unplanned and often spontaneous purchases without careful consideration or thought. It involves buying items on a whim, driven by immediate desires or emotions rather than a premeditated decision.

Why should I worry about it?

In a world full of automaticity and immediacy, we should all be aware of our spontaneous habits because they can often lead to negative consequences. Persistent impulsive spending can lead to financial strain as money is spent on non-essential items, leaving less for essential needs, savings, or debt repayment. In addition, impulsive spending can disrupt budget planning and allocation. Oftentimes, after the initial pleasure of the purchase wears off, people often experience regret, stress, or anxiety, realizing that the expense was unnecessary or could have been better utilized elsewhere. This type of behavior can become a recurring pattern, making it challenging to break free from a cycle and hindering efforts to implement responsible financial habits.

Curbing impulsive spending involves adopting a set of intentional practices. Melissa Dotson, our financial planner, produced a list of 10 common methods to diminish the regrettable patterns of impulsive behavior and the tools needed to regain control over your spending habits.

  1. Digital Detox: Break the online shopping cycle by limiting visits to tempting websites. While you’re at it, unfollow the Joneses on social platforms to reduce the influence of comparison.
  2. List-Driven Buying: Craft a shopping list and commit to purchasing only what’s on the list. See a cool gadget or cozy sweater you’d like to have one day? Add it to the list. When your discretionary or guilt-free spending allows for such a purchase, come back to your list, and make that pre-meditated purchase.
  3. Time-Valued Spending: Understand your real hourly wage to remind yourself of the time required to purchase each item. If there is a $30 shirt and you make $10/hour, that shirt is worth 3 hours of your time.
  4. Declutter & Rediscover: Declutter your home and rediscover the treasures that currently exist in your home. This reinforces the realization that abundance exists without the need for additional purchases.
  5. Delay Gratification: Institute a minimum 24-hour waiting period (the longer, the better) before making non-essential purchases.
  6. Divert Impulses: Redirect urges towards more productive activities or hobbies.
  7. Remove Payment Data: Remove stored payment information from your devices and online accounts.
  8. Trigger Awareness: Identify triggers by evaluating who you’re with, what you’re doing, and when it occurs. Eliminate these triggers.
  9. Ethical Awareness: Educate yourself on the environmental and ethical consequences of consumerism and buying excessive amounts of products.
  10. Opt-Out: Unsubscribe from promotional emails from shopping sites tempting you of their deals.

While these strategies can be effective, consider establishing a foundation for success by aligning your spending with your life values. Articulate and prioritize these values and translate them into financial goals. Having an accountability partner can significantly support your journey as you reshape your behavior to reflect your values.

Remember, money is simply the tool to fund the life you want to live, but in order to align your money with your life, you have to spend time understanding what is most important to you.

Melissa Dotson, CFP®, CSLP®

Financial Planning Associate

Melissa came to Narwhal in the summer of 2018 following the completion of her master’s degree in financial planning from the University of Georgia, where she also earned her bachelor’s degree in consumer economics. Her interest in the field started with learning about consumer behavior, specifically its relation with complex moneymaking decisions. Melissa recently received her CFP® Certification in January 2021. Working with a CFP® professional can help you find the path to achieving your financial goals. Your goals may evolve over the years as a result of shifts in your lifestyle or circumstances such as an inheritance, career change, marriage, house purchase , or a growing family. Melissa is here to help you through that process. When she’s not working, Melissa enjoys cycling, cooking, and spending time with her beagle and two nieces.

Let’s start the conversation.

At Narwhal Capital Management, you’re more than just a portfolio, and it’s not all about the numbers. Let’s start with a meeting about your needs and future goals.