5 Ways to curb shopping impulse

By Catherine E Cheok

Unlike many of my friends in Singapore, I do not enjoy shopping. This has mercifully spared me from any heartbreak as a result from shopping spree that spiraled out of hand. Despite that, I have a terrible reputation for impulse shopping which, though I do not spend on a long shopping list, I always end up buying something overpriced and not needed.

After yet another year of close to zero savings, I finally sat down to work on some measures to curb my poor spending habit. If you are facing the same problem as me, you may find these tips useful:

1.Limit window shopping

This is the first rule I set for myself- no window shopping. I employ a military style when it comes to getting what I want in a store- I look. I see. I conquer. Basically, I set out a clear shopping list, have an understanding on the prevailing market rate for the item I want and the likely store to carry that item, goes in and out in less than half an hour. This has worked quite well for me and it probably helps that I do not have an inherent desire to linger around the shop. A note here that window shopping should not be limited to physical stores but also to online shopping too.

2.Set limit to credit card and ATM withdrawal

Knowing that I have a tendency to blow my budget on a single item, one of the ways to overcome this weakness is to limit the amount of money I can lay hand on, such as setting a separate account for savings apart from the fund for daily expenses and shopping. it is especially helpful if you choose to put your savings in an account that is not readily accessible such as a foreign bank account. However, this tends to fail for majority of us as credit cards are easily available, as well as the ease of interbank fund transfer. Do you know that you can set a credit limit and also to limit bank withdrawal or transfer amount? This is one way to control your spending impulse.

3.Be held accountable to someone else

Most of us may not be able to discipline ourselves without an external check. Try to rope in a family member or close friend to help you in your endeavor to curb shopping impulses and you are likely to find them more than willing to do that. You may want to set up a routine with them to check in with you on a regular basis.

4.Keep tab of your expenses regularly

Another way I attempt to limit my spending is to keep a log on all my expenses on a weekly basis. Though checking my expenses on a weekly basis sounds tiring and troublesome, I find that this method is very helpful for me to identify those shopping impulses and any expensive spending habit. This method is also a way I remind myself on the motivation not to overspend. Regular review and tracking can commit these reasons to memory. You may want to limit your tracking to certain items or transaction mode for ease of checking. For example, I only track my credit card expenses weekly and specifically on ad-hoc items as I know these are my weakest link for my problem!

5.If all else fail, remind yourself that the extra money saved is for that BIG reward at the end

For those which none of the above suggestion works, give yourself a reward at the end of the endeavor as motivation. For example, you can set a goal of a long year end holiday if you manage to save $XXX amount, or save the money for that trip by end of X month. Keeping your mind focused on the reward may give you extra motivation to keep to this trying habit.

It is true that curbing shopping impulse can be a long and tedious process where you may find yourself failing at times. However the reward of seeing your bank account growing as a result of your efforts is well worth the frustration and pain!