I’ll bet there's not one person who's ever read this blog who hasn't gone out and bought something on impulse. We all do it, we do it all the time. Sometimes it's just small things, but sometimes it's big things. For example, you might be in the queue at the supermarket and you see all those chocolate bars lined up by the tills. Before you've even realised it you've picked one up and it's in the trolley. A chocolate bar may not break the bank but the problem is that many of us make much larger impulse buys.
In London there’s a great event called The Ideal Home Show. If you love anything to do with homes this is the place to go and I love it because it's a master class in selling. There are people selling everything you could possibly imagine and the number of people who come away with things that are impulse buys is phenomenal. For example, there's one guy who sells mops. Now, a mop is a mop for most of us and I can't really get excited about one. However, the number of people I see leaving the show with not one but two mops is staggering, especially when you take time to consider who really needs two mops? The point is that selling is an art and the pros out there, such as Mr Mop, can convince us to buy almost anything.
If you’re trying to get your finances back on track, impulse buys are the one thing that can most easily derail that plan. So, I want you to be much more alert when you’re out shopping, because quite often we don't even realize it’s happening. And remember, an impulse buy can also be an upsell or an add-on or something extra. For example, you might be buying a new sofa and before you know it you’ve signed up for an extra £150 to have it scotch-guarded (a.k.a stain protected). It could be that you need that stain protection because you've got animals or kids but actually in many cases you don't. The same applies to delivery charges and extended warrantees.
The retailers love selling you these impulse buys and it’s so easy because mentally you’re already in buying mode. So I want you to really take some time to think about how often you’ve been tempted to buy things that you weren't originally intending to. That's how you need to think about an impulse buy. If you're looking at something and you had no intention of buying that item before you went out that morning, that is an impulse buy. I'm not saying you shouldn't buy it but I want you to be very aware of what’s happening when you’re out shopping.
Then I want you to do one thing – just one:
Give yourself a time out.
Take a deep breath and put some mental time between you seeing something or being persuaded by an impulse buy and saying yes, because if you give yourself just a few seconds for your brain to fully engage, then you'll be able to override the emotional desire that you need this. We've talked before about spending being emotional - it's how most of us spend - that's what the marketeers know and that's why they're so good at selling us stuff. But if you can give yourself a few moments between emotionally saying 'yes' and your brain getting a chance to engage, the chances are you'll be able to resist that impulse buy much more easily and therefore the chances of you derailing your finances are significantly reduced.
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