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Impulse Buying and How it Affects Savings

Do you ever look at an object in your house and try to remember when, how and if you bought that item? This happens quite often and to a number of us, especially women. I sometimes have to wonder and say to myself, searching inwards and asking as if I was waiting for an answer from my spirit,  if I was really in my right senses when I made such purchase. Yes, you read right, and you are not innocent either.

It is not a statement of fact that Impulse buying is such a terrible thing, yes we financial buffs like to make sure that every kobo is accounted for. It is the hallmark of discipline and managing our money, but hey, we are human beings and certain things may dictate our response in life situations. 

Let’s start from what impulse buying is all about. The Business Dictionary defines it as a “spur of the moment, unplanned decision... made just before a purchase”.  It has been determined through scientific research that impulse buying is largely tied to emotions and feelings either consciously or otherwise. 

Here we go again, emotions. I remember as a very active marketer in my company, I had mood swings and it all seemed like a roller scooter. I derived so much happiness in escaping into the shopping malls during my break periods, not just to window shop but to actually make an unplanned purchase. It brought such freshness and satisfaction to my soul. I felt fulfilled as a single lady holding those shopping bags out of the mall. And when I get home, few days later it dawns on me, what my people would call “my eye don clear” . I did not know this was a major money management crisis and a psychological problem I was in and needed help until I was talking to a friend once and she mentioned the same problem and we both saw that this problem has deprived us from having any form of savings or investments. At that point, I knew I needed help and urgently too.

So what are the factors that are largely responsible for impulse buying? Personally, sometimes the only thing that can get me out of a mood is the idea of having something new, something to love up on... Does it help? Please don’t ask, because I know you are as guilty as I am.

The common causes of Impulse Buying include:

  • The love for shopping
  • Availability of credit cards which makes shopping so much easier.
  • Living without a budget
  • Attractive presentation of goods to feed our emotional tendencies
  • Upsell and Cross sell (a strategy to attract buyers by offering low price on main items and make a profit by upselling overpriced items)
  • Delayed Cost (a tactic used to give an initial taste of a premium product for a limited period of time for little to no money up front)

While these are some of the causes, it is safe to say Impulse Buying has underlying causes and the reason why quite a lot of us have fallen victim of this is the resultant effects that comes from indulging in this act:

  • Immediate satisfaction
  • The illusion of more vs necessity
  • The emotional high and promise of a fix albeit temporary

Having said this, let's explore how we can channel our energies into making good personal financial decisions regardless of the chaos going on within us or what feeds our subconscious; because the truth is, whether we like it or not, Impulse Buying does more harm to our finances and is totally not worth the temporary fix it brings compared to the gratification that could be for the longer haul.

So if you are like me, you may find these tips helpful:

  1. Take a Deep Breath: When you get in your feelings and all, remember there is light always in the dark. Take a walk, self-massage, drink water, start a conversation with someone...
  2. Keep your Eyes on the Ball: If you have been following our posts, you will notice that, there is a strong emphasis on the need to plan especially when it relates to our finances. It is inevitable that at every point in time we will always have needs and wants. This informs how we make our financial blueprints. If your blueprint is clear enough, it should stall you from deviating too much from the path you have set for yourself. Impulse Buying makes us go off our marked path most times especially when we do not have a firm grip on it.
  3. Master the Art of Asking Questions: Self dialogue is important o! Before you go have a ball at the expense of your future, do take a minute to ask yourself, will this spree or product improve your life in an important way? Will it truly make you feel good? Or will it further your cause to live that life you have always desired? nobody is in the matter with you... ‘To thine own self, be true’ na the way!
  4. Set Rules for Extra Spending: People, life does truly happen. We sometimes find ourselves in situations where it feels like we are totally drowned, and the truth is for some Impulse Buying truly does set them free. So instead of us being too theoretical about finding workable solutions, let’s focus on sustainable ones that can help. It is okay to live a little and splurge, however be controlled about it and ensure that you set smart limits that will not impact negatively on your Savings.

Conclusively, it is important to not set rules that you cannot keep. Yes, there is the place of discipline, but what is more paramount is to take a critical look at everything that concerns your finance, study your income and spending patterns and make the best decisions that will improve on your finance rather that put you under financial strain.

Don't forget, Savings no matter how much of an effort it seems is rewarding. Focus on the rewards it affords you and run with that singular thought.

For more on Personal Finance, do check out our other blog posts, social media handles and share your financial stories with us if you have learnt one or two things from us. We will be glad to hear from you.

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