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Monitor Your Impulse Spending Urges

Leo Babauta
Leo Babauta

By Leo Babauta

Do you have a problem with impulse spending? If so, the first step
to controlling it is monitoring your urges. Make it a goal to monitor
and track your spending urges over the next week or two.

Keep a small notebook handy,
and every time you get an urge to buy something, practical or not, put
a little tally in the notebook. Tally every urge, whether it is to buy
something online, or at a store, looking at a catalog, thinking about
that new iPod while at your desk, or even if it’s multiple urges to buy
the same item.

Whether you buy the item or not, just keep track of the urges. Many
times the urges are subconscious. You won’t be able to control your
spending if you’re not aware of it.

Some other tips, beyond this first step, for controlling impulse spending:

  • Avoid the mall or Walmart other shopping areas. Just going there practically guarantees you’ll buy something on impulse. Do something outdoors or at home instead.
  • If you have to go shopping, go with a list. And stick to the list. Tell yourself that anything not on the list is strictly verboten.
  • Keep a 30-day list. If you
    have an urge to buy something, make it a rule that you have to first
    write it on your 30-day list. If, at the end of those 30 days, you
    still want it, then you can buy it (if you have the money). Just the
    act of putting it on the list (awareness) and forcing yourself to wait
    (delay) can make a big difference.
  • Breathe. And drink water. This delay can help you get past your urge.
  • Find other things to do with your friends or family.
    Do you hang out with people who love to shop as a pastime? Encourage
    them to do something else. Go outside, to a park, to the beach. Have a
    potluck dinner at home. If your friends refuse to change, you may want
    to give some thought to who you hang out with, if you have different

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