One thing I’ve noticed since getting into the world of personal finance and carefully tracking my expense categories is that I’m much less likely to make impulse purchases. It used to be that I would see something that I wanted and know that I could afford it so I would just buy it without another thought. Now, for the most part, I stop and think about what I’m about to buy before I buy it. Is this really something I need? Or if it’s not something I need, is it something I really want to buy right now? Can I find it for less money later? Will I still be happy with this purchase tomorrow? Next week?
One trick that I have learned is that I will pick up an item in the store and walk around with it for a while as I’m looking around the store before I actually make the purchase. Sometimes I decide to put the item back on the shelf. Other times I decide to buy it.
I do occasionally find myself reverting to my old ways, and every time, there’s a moment of guilt at the impulse purchase. But even then, I find that most of the time, my impulse purchases now are things that I really do enjoy. For example, on a whim, I picked up a bag of gourmet coffee at Harry and David the other day. This is something that’s a big treat for me, as I love good flavored coffee. Was it something I needed? No. But I realized that in less than a month, I have family and friends coming to stay with me for a few days. How nice it will be to have this coffee to share with them.
Additionally, the impulse purchase I’m talking about here is about $12, as compared to impulse purchases of yore, which could be anywhere from $25 to $50 at a time. Plus, if I think about it, I normally buy pretty good coffee for daily use that, on sale, costs about $6. So really, the impulse buy only cost me $6 more than normal.
Am I justifying the impulse purchase? No. I still would prefer to consider all my purchases before buying. But I do like that my impulse purchases have turned into something so small. Maybe in a few more months, they’ll be down to pennies.
Amusingly, I’m going to end this post with day two of the abundant life spending spree.
Day 2 – $50
With $50 to spend on anything today, I would buy a skirt that I’ve been eyeing in a catalog. It’s casual, probably too casual for work, and admittedly, I don’t wear a lot of skirts except for at work. But it’s so pretty!
Megan is a 30-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.