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Like most Americans, you probably spent the last month or two shopping, shopping and shopping some more. But with the frenzied holiday season finally over, you need to put away your charge card and practice more mindful spending or risk putting yourself in some financial difficulty. If you are an impulse shopper, you will be tempted by all the retail clearance sales, but there are a few ways to help you stop buying stuff that you do not need.
One of the best ways to combat impulse buying is to make a list before shopping and stick to it. You will be more discerning about your needs at home and better able to fight off temptation if you use your list as a shield against all the shiny objects available in the marketplace. If you want more insurance, give a copy of your list to your partner or another family member.
While you don’t have to freeze your credit cards to protect yourself, do leave them at home when you visit any store. When possible, take only the amount of cash you have budgeted for your purchases. If you see something frivolous that you “must have,” you will have to go home and get your cards in order to buy it. Usually, you won’t want anything badly enough to make the trip. Without adding new charges to your credit card bill, you can begin paying off your holiday debt.
Of course, you will need to buy some major items from time to time, and it’s easy to go overboard when a skilled salesperson is showing you that high-tech computer, next generation stove or beautiful new car. Do your research before you shop for these larger items and never buy anything expensive without taking a 24-hour cooling off period. “Sleep on it” has always been good advice. After a night’s sleep, you will be less likely to overspend and less entranced by features that you do not need.
Most impulse purchases are mistakes, no matter how great they feel at the time. You are left with a shopping hangover and distressing financial commitments that make life difficult. If you find it difficult to stick to the above suggestions, take someone trustworthy with you when you shop. It’s harder to be irresponsible when you have an audience.