Money & Career

Reduce Impulse Spending

Reduce Impulse Spending

Illustration: iStockPhoto

Money & Career

Reduce Impulse Spending

Have you ever finished your shopping and felt a little sick about your purchase(s)? This is called buyer’s remorse, and often you’re feeling it because you bought items you didn’t plan to buy. This impulse spending can be bad for your bank account—but don’t panic! We’ve got a strategy to end those potentially costly expenditures.

Many Canadians spend money impulsively—for various reasons. If you buy on the spur of the moment occasionally, assuming it’s not a major ticket item like a sports car, it’s probably not a big deal. However, if you’re finding your spontaneous purchases are wreaking havoc on your budget (and debt load), as well as your emotions, it’s important to take back the reins. You can regain control of rash spending by identifying your triggers and creating an action plan to manage them using a method called TEMPO—an acronym for Time, Environment, Mood, Place and Occasion.


T is for Time

Think about time. Are there times during the day where you’re more likely to spend impulsively? Some examples include on the way to work when you can be lured into getting a drive-through coffee, or after work, when you’re tired and opt for eating out/ordering in. If you notice that the trigger is the time of day, what can you do to lessen the temptation? Could you make your coffee at home? Take a different route to work? Put a meal in the slow cooker and have your dinner ready when you walk in the door?


E is for Environment

Are there certain environments that make you want to spend more? For example, your local craft fair, farmers’ market, shopping mall or bookstore? You have a few options if a certain environment is your trigger. The easiest is avoidance, but if that’s not an option, consider shopping only with cash and leaving your cards at home.


M is for Mood

We are emotional creatures and our moods can impact our spending habits. The mood doesn’t need to be negative to trigger the desire to spend. We can spend to celebrate a special occasion or accomplishment. We can spend in anticipation of something good like a job interview. We can also spend when we’re bored, depressed, lonely, angry and hurt. Regardless of the underlying feeling, the key is to acknowledge it and find support without the use of money. The solution could be anything like talking with a friend, going for a walk, getting therapy, even journaling.


P is for Places

There may be certain places, such as kitchen stores, bookstores, craft stores, home improvement stores and grocery stores, that prompt you to pull out your wallet. Some places can’t be avoided, but many can. If you can’t steer clear of a certain place, can you leave your credit card at home? Could you give yourself a 24-hour rule? Say, if you want to buy something, put it (or the decision) on hold for 24 hours. If you still want it after waiting and you have the money, buy it—it’s no longer a spontaneous purchase.


O is for Occasion

Perhaps there are occasions that drive you to spend more. Think Halloween, the December holidays, back-to-school, and even vacations. While we can’t typically dodge major events, we can mitigate our impulse spending by creating a realistic budget, using cash, and/or relying on a buddy to help keep you from breaking the bank.


Impulse spending is a reaction to something, someone, or some event. Consider taking a step back and asking yourself the next time you want to buy rashly, what’s getting triggered? What do I need to do to get back in control? Putting yourself in the driver’s seat of your spending habits will help you reach your financial destination sooner.




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Money & Career

Reduce Impulse Spending