First Person: Controlling My Impulse to Buy

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I was shopping with a close friend today who is a self-proclaimed big spender. I wondered whether her shopping habits would rub off on me because I've heard of peer-pressure spending. Even though we stopped at a big-box store that sells everything in bulk, I was pleased that I didn't give into the temptation to buy things I didn't need at the moment. After reflecting on the shopping trip later, I realized that what helped me was asking myself several key questions that prevented me from giving into the impulse to buy.

What else can I use to save money?

When we were shopping at the retail store, my friend pointed out a rice cooker because she knows my son likes to eat a lot of rice. Almost like a commercial, she started pointing out all the benefits of owning a rice cooker. She said several of her friends love their rice cookers. However, in my mind, I was contemplating what I already own that could do the job just as well. I realized I have the perfect pot and lid at home that I've used before for making rice. In that moment I saved myself about $35.

Can I wait for a special occasion?

The next temptation I faced was in the liquor department of the grocery store. A salesman came up to us and began explaining the balance, body and flavors of some choice wines. My friend purchased two bottles of wine, but I said I would wait until it was closer to the holidays. In my mind, if I purchased the wine now I'd probably drink it. Instead, I decided to delay the purchase until it was the day before the holiday. From past experience, I know delaying such a purchase will probably mean I never actually buy it. I saved myself $40 by thinking of excuses to delay the purchase.

Does this purchase get me closer to my goals?

In addition to having savings goals, I also have goals in my life related to health and fitness. When faced with the temptation to purchase bakery items in bulk as well as anything in the snack aisle, I thought about whether the purchase would help me achieve my goals or be a hindrance to reaching my goals. Asking this question helped avert several purchases of junk foods that would have totaled $50.

Am I going to wear or use this often?

When looking at the clothing, my friend decided to purchase some clothes for a 3-day work trip. She said she wanted to wear new clothes for the special training and enrichment program through her work. I was tempted to buy a few new articles of clothing, but I asked myself how often I'd wear the clothes. I already have plenty of winter clothes that barely get worn because I live in Florida. I also contemplated buying a new juicer, but remembered I never used the old one I had. I estimate I saved $150 by not giving into the impulse to buy items I'd barely if ever use.

Although I do sometimes spend money when I go shopping with my friend, I don't spend nearly as much as she does. She isn't afraid to admit she has more than $20,000 worth of credit card debt as well as student loans that total more than $50,000. I can relate to her because I've been there. However, the only question I have to ask myself now to avoid getting back into debt is, "Do I really want to feel that trapped again by debt?"

*Note: This was written by a Yahoo! contributor. Do you have a personal finance story that you'd like to share? Sign up with the Yahoo! Contributor Network to start publishing your own finance articles.

More from this contributor:

Setting Better Financial Goals for the New Year

How I Double My Savings with Help of Friends

Aspiring to be Comfortable, but not Rich

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