The Trap Of Im­pulse Buy­ing

New Straits Times - - Klassifieds -

and my spend­ing is made pri­mar­ily with credit cards when­ever pos­si­ble. To con­trol your im­pul­sive be­hav­iour, you need a new habit to re­place this de­struc­tive habit. Credit cards are just fi­nan­cial tools. It is not dan­ger­ous un­til its users be­come reck­less.

Now, imag­ine the process of con­sid­er­ing a pur­chase. What’s go­ing on in your mind at that par­tic­u­lar mo­ment? You might be think­ing:

The dis­count is only for this week­end. I don’t want to miss it. It is the last piece! The next per­son who sees it is go­ing to grab it. I have never seen such a deep dis­count be­fore.

Well, all these are the mar­ket­ing gimmicks of mess­ing your mind with scarcity and ur­gency so you will not be ra­tio­nal. A per­son who can’t con­trol will take out his credit card. Even if he doesn’t have a card, he will with­draw cash from the near­est ATM to make that pur­chase.

Should you sup­press your de­sires when you get an urge to buy? It is com­mon sense, but it doesn’t feel right, does it? You want some­thing, but you sup­press your feel­ing to­wards it. That’s cruel. Now you know that thought process, let’s just add one new habit into that strug­gle. If done right, then you shouldn’t feel guilty mak­ing a pur­chase, or dis­ap­pointed of for­go­ing the op­por­tu­nity of a sale. what­ever works for you, but not too long. The process is to get your mind to stop think­ing about the dis­count, the sales or the feel­ing of own­ing an item. In­stead, you fo­cus on the prac­ti­cal­ity. If you are not go­ing to use the thing, it is not go­ing to pro­vide value to you. So it is not go­ing to make you hap­pier by own­ing it now. You can come back later to buy it when you need it. The new habit will let your mind cool down.

Let me share my ex­pe­ri­ence. I love to read, cou­pled with the RM1,000 tax re­lief of book pur­chase, I would buy many books when book­stores put up a sale. So each year I would make sure that I use up the max­i­mum tax re­lief amount plus my wife’s quota. At my read­ing speed, I can fin­ish only 1-2 books a month. But com­pare it to the rate of my pur­chase, I of­ten have dozens of books un­read, still wrapped and oc­cu­pied my lim­ited book­shelf space.

You can imag­ine that just af­ter a few years, I have close to a hun­dred books piled up. The trou­ble comes when I move to a new home. That had hap­pened a few times. So in­stead of gain­ing knowl­edge and plea­sure through read­ing, the books has caused me more has­sle. The things I first thought of as as­sets be­came li­a­bil­i­ties. So I have re­frained from this im­pul­sive book hoard­ing many years back. I will make sure I’ve done read­ing the books be­fore I get the new ones.

Be prac­ti­cal and make wise and pru­dent spend­ing de­ci­sions. You can al­ways come back af­ter 2-3 days and buy it if you want to. At least that way you’ll be safe from com­mit­ting mis­takes and be drowned in a pool of guilt. Use that time to do some re­search too if the items you are eye­ing on cost a bomb.

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