It is that time of the year when people spend money buying gifts for friends and loved ones. The other day I saw an advertisement from my Credit Union for a loan to help pay for Christmas Gifts. This disturbing message got me to thinking about gift giving and, in particular, the idea of impulse buying. Before getting into the heart of my thoughts, let me be clear, borrowing money to buy Christmas gifts is a really bad idea. By now you probably know I frown upon acquiring any debt, but I understand the occasional need of a house, car or paying for an illness. Borrowing money to purchase Christmas gifts doesn’t make sense at any level.
Now back to our regularly scheduled program. I don’t think of myself as an impulse buyer. In fact, my family will say I take way too long to make most purchases. You see, I like to research products to find the best value. With the internet, there is almost an endless supply of product information and reviews available to the discerning buyer. Many times, the search for the perfect product is more interesting to me than the acquiring the actual product. After making my purchase, I am disappointed because the search has ended.
Recently my methodical shopping instincts flew completely off the rails. After the Astros won the World Series, I become strangely obsessed with memorabilia. The day after the series win I found myself wildly purchasing hats and shirts. This free-for-all continued with the purchase of several Sports Illustrated covers and a poster. I knew I hit the wall when I bought an Astros Christmas ornament from, wait for it, The Bradford Exchange.
What caused my usual methodical shopping methods to go so far awry? I got caught up in the emotion of the Astros World Series victory. I never wanted the good feeling of winning to fade away. Weddings, the birth of a child, and vacations are other events where there is risk of extreme impulse buying.
Some people struggle with impulse buying on a daily basis. Retailers are acutely aware of this phenomenon and do their best to instigate such spending activity. Impulse buying is the reason many people end up in severe and unmanageable debt. Is all impulse spending bad? I don’t think so, occasionally spending money driven by emotions is a good thing. Impulse buying crosses the line when it causes debt or damages our financial stability. Emotional spending is okay, but it must be balanced by a sense of the value or need of the purchase. Our financial ability to make the purchase is also a critical component.
As with anything else in life, impulse buying is okay if only practiced occasionally and is checked by the reality of our financial plan or otherwise known as a budget. Even though I temporarily lost control with my spending on Astros memorabilia, I feel good about my frivolous expenditures. The Astros World Series win was a huge emotional event for me, so it was okay to go crazy for a while. Eventually I was able to balance my temporary passion for overspending with the reality that I had spent enough money on Astros stuff. Are you an out of control impulse buyer? If so, now is a great time to create a budget for 2018! Not sure where to start in creating your budget? Listed below are a few web sites that can get you started.
Start your 2018 budget today.
Make the most of this day!