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VOL. 127 | NO. 224 | Thursday, November 15, 2012

Dana and Ray Brandon

Think Twice to Stop Impulse Buying

By Ray and Dana Brandon

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Ray’s Take We all know that impulse spending can put you in massive debt and destroy your chances of reaching other financial goals. However, we still do it. It’s easy to say, “Think of your long-term financial plan” when confronted with temptation, but that’s not always easy to do.

A study published in Psychological Science found that people with financial problems tended to be more impatient and impulsive. They were more likely to choose immediate gratification rather than wait for a larger reward.

Overcoming impulse buying is a mental battle, but it’s one you can win. Start by not just setting financial goals but by imagining yourself in that future. Whether it’s attending your child’s college graduation or sitting on the front porch of that seaside home, put yourself in the picture. Imagine the details and your feelings of accomplishment and enjoyment. Then, when you are faced with spending temptation, stop a moment, recall those feelings, and savor them.

Picturing yourself in your future can make it feel more achievable and real to you, and might be just the nudge you need to pass on that purchase. Making a more emotional connection to your future self puts emphasis on the big picture and achieving long-term goals.

Some people claim that writing down or simply repeating a long-term goal to themselves a dozen times on a daily basis has helped them to achieve that goal. Why? Probably because it keeps that goal top-of-mind instead of hidden by daily distractions.

If you realize impulse buying is keeping you from achieving your real dreams, start picturing yourself enjoying those dreams. Each morning, look in the bathroom mirror and repeat to yourself, “I will….,” and fill in the blank with your dream.

Remember that there are thousands of people whose job depends on separating you from your money, and they are very well trained. Overcoming impulse buying is a mental battle. Arming yourself with your long-term dreams every day is a good way to win the war.

Dana’s Take Spouses’ spending tendencies can sabotage the financial future of the whole family. When a couple is made up of a saver and a spender or even two spenders, both partners may be to blame for that failure.

If the saver sets up tight restrictions on spending, the spender may react in anger, spending with a vengeance. When two spenders make up a couple, neither may be willing to set reasonable boundaries.

One solution is to set up separate “fun money” accounts for each spouse. That money may be used in any way whether for platform shoes, fishing poles, savings or charity.

When spenders have control over a generous chunk of change, they are less likely to overstep those boundaries.

Sharing is caring, especially when it comes to money. If the couple can’t work it out, it’s time to seek the help of a licensed marriage and family therapist.

Ray Brandon is a certified financial planner and CEO of Brandon Financial Planning (www.brandonplanning.com). His wife, Dana, has a bachelor’s degree in finance and is a licensed clinical social worker. Contact Ray Brandon at raybrandon@brandonplanning.com.

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