Trick Yourself Into Curbing Your Compulsive Spending With The 30 Day Rule

by Hank Coleman

There are many times in my life when I have a compulsive urge to buy things. I am definitely a borderline compulsive spender and an impulse shopper. My wife will surely attest to that. But, I have managed to curb my desire to buy something on impulse over the years as I have grown older. One way that I have curb my shopping cravings is through the 30 Day Rule.

Here is a template on how to use the 30 Day Rule

Put Down The Item And Leave The Store

control your compulsive spendingGoing into the store in itself can be the first mistake you make if you have a shopping problem or a problem with spending too much money. Do you routinely bust your monthly budget? It is probably because you cannot control your spending. I would bet that you might have a higher than average credit card balance as well to go with your spending habits. But, it does not have to be that way. When it comes to making large purchases, truly thinking about if you need that item or how your life will be better with it is what makes a difference between instant gratification and budget busting. The best thing you can do besides never entering the store in the first place is to stop, put the item down, and take a timeout to think about your purchase. Put the item back and reassess your situation in thirty days.

Write Down The Item That You Want To Buy

So, you took a timeout, stepped back, and are going to wait for thirty days. Use this time to write down what you wanted to buy. Make sure that you include the price, where it was, and why you wanted it. Keep the paper you wrote your item down on some place where you will see it in thirty days. You could put it on your bathroom mirror or on your refrigerator even. You can even turn it into a savings goal. Write the dollar amount that you need to save in order to pay cash for the item on your mirror or right on the piggybank. It will give you that little spark you need to pay cash for it instead of busting your budget or reaching for the plastic allure of your credit cards.

Reevaluate Whether You Really Want To Buy That Item

So, now that your self-imposed instant gratification exile is over, you can reassess whether or not you really need or even still want the item in question. You may find out that you do not need the item after all. You may have benefited from a price drop as well. Did the company that makes your item come out with a newer or better model in those thirty days? Ryan at Cash Money Life makes a great case for not an early adopter for new technology for example.

Why The 30 Day Rule Works

The 30 Day Rule works because you are not outright denying yourself. It is sort of like telling your children “maybe”. You know that maybe really means no, but they don’t always know that. Your mind works in much the same way. Tell yourself that maybe you can buy that plasma 60 inch television set in thirty days. Sleep on it. But, you really know that you cannot afford it in the first place. You really know that you aren’t going to buy it in thirty days. You will trick yourself out of that instant gratification and save yourself a chunk of change and heartache in the end as well by not buying it on impulse.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Youbum Frank Frank August 24, 2010 at 5:50 pm

One more thing to you can do is, while at the store, if you have a Smartphone, lookup the product model number (In this example, the model number of the 60″ Plasma TV) on google.com or bizrate.com, find the cheapest vendor online (usually amazon.com or any other online vendor not in your state that does NOT charge sales tax and shipping), add the URL and TOTAL PRICE “out of the door” on a “To be purchased” list. Then, never purchase the item, because you know that is the cheapest price for the product and it’s on the list, so you don’t need to worry about it and it will “eventually” be purchased, satisfying the “we must purchase something new soon” desire.

Serena August 28, 2010 at 8:11 pm

Great ideas all around. I usually try to convince myself that buying one more thing and cramming it into my already cluttered apartment won’t ultimately make me happier. I more often than not have something at home that will work instead. Making do with what I have makes me happier in the long run.

Under the “reevaluation” tab, I would have added that, if I go back in a month and the item is no longer on sale, I can tell myself “It wasn’t meant to be.”

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