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Impulse Control in the One-Click Purchase Era


Pointless Comparisons

I often compare myself to others who buy clothes and household junk weekly or monthly and think I’m pretty frugal. I am starting to see that really isn’t the case. Data collection on my spending for the month isn’t quite complete, but I’ve been able to draw some early conclusions. I know this won’t be news to most of you, but I was bowled over with a realization: My purchases are largely impulsive. 

Things I Don’t Need 

Almost everything I spend money on pops into my head within 48 hours of purchasing of it. I’ll see a recipe in a magazine or on a blog, or I’ll decide to buy some trinket that’s going to make my life so much better. This morning, I thought about how I have only a couple bottles of crusty, old nail polish. I almost went down to the pharmacy below my office on the spot. Yikes! While I used to be a perfectly-manicured fashionista, my priorities have changed. I work in a casual office and outside of work, I’m usually digging in the garden, doing DIY projects around the house,  or playing with my rough-and-tumble dogfriend. I don’t need nail polish! That’s an item that can be added to my “nice-to-have” list and I can keep an eye out for a clearance sale. 

The Himalayan Salt Lamp

I suppose my recent splurge could be related to finally having some cash in my savings and to put towards my credit cards after so many sleepless nights and tears. Guys, a year ago my credit score was TRASH. It was in the low 500s. I had panic attacks about it. I ended up buckling down for about eight months and getting it up to a “good” rating and then stopped all financial improvement. 

I’ve had a salt lamp in my Amazon cart since February. They’re $20 and I’ve just always liked them. I had one when I was a teenager and I was nostalgic for the warm glow. But I am not for want of lamps in my house, and I don’t believe the woo out there that says salt lamps are good for your “energy”. For some reason, I finally pulled the trigger last weekend, and for the first time ever, I felt spending regret. This purchase was purely nostalgic and aesthetic. Along with the lamp, I got a fancy in-oven meat thermometer and a treat puzzle for my dog. I looked in to returning these items, but I would have to pay $7.99 for shipping and then there’s the additional carbon footprint (I try not to do same-day deliveries and I group items together over weeks or even months for less impact on the environment). 

Going Forward

I have the Flipp app on my phone and computer for searching sales, and I learned today that it has a shopping list feature! Instead of leaving things in my Amazon cart, waiting for my next moment of weakness, I can leave them in Flipp. There are wayyyy more apps like this for Americans, by the way. Canadians are apparently less app-savvy for savings!

Flipp doesn’t eliminate the need for impulse control. I don’t want to buy unnecessary nail polish at full price OR on sale. But leaving my wanted items in a list somewhere gives me some peace of mind, and taking them out of my Amazon cart with all it’s one-click-same-day-delivery magic should help a bit.

Anyone have other tips for impulse control with spending? How do you decide when you’ve “earned” something? Maybe after I hit my next savings goal, I can treat myself to some beauty and self-care items under $50. Hmmm.