Put Impulse Spending To Work As A Savings Builder

If you’re the type of person who thinks “discretionary spending” means “I can buy what I want, when I want,” read this person’s idea for how to create an Impulse Buy Savings Plan. It gives you a methodology where you can effectively trap your impulse purchases in a cooling-off period, while also seeing how that money would look if it were saved instead.

The idea is simple enough, but has the potential to drastically change how you look at the money you spend while still giving you room to make discretionary purchases if you really want to:

Anytime I am gripped by a strong and legitimate desire to buy non-essential crap of any sort, I will transfer the full cost of the item including tax and shipping from my primary checking account into my Emigrant Direct personal savings account with a memo in Microsoft Money to remind me what item the money is for and let it sit there for one month. If I STILL want the crap a month later, I can, if I desire, transfer the money to my Electric Orange checking account to buy it. However, if the burning need for the piece of crap in question has subsided, I simply leave the transferred funds in my savings account to accrue more interest.

The author also sets herself a very strict “allowable” spending limit each month—that is, funds for purchases that aren’t passed through the Impulse Buy Savings Plan litmus test—by using a debit card that isn’t connected to her primary checking or savings accounts. It can be a sort of enforced allowance if you need that extra level of structure to curb your spending.

” My Impulse Buy Savings Plan” [Caustic Musings]
(Photo: Getty)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Arlahna says:

    What a great idea! As an impulse spender myself, I could probably benefit from this as well. I’m going to take a closer look. :)

  2. bellagray says:

    I like that idea. I think I’m going to try this. I’m the type of person who lets things sit in a shopping cart on an online store for an hour before I actually hit the purchase button or close the browser. I do that in stores, too. I’ll walk around for a little while and look at things and 75% of the time, I put the item back and leave empty handed. I never thought of doing that online with my savings, though. Good idea.

  3. Imaginary_Friend says:

    Awesome idea.

  4. RandomHookup says:

    I was going to take a closer look, but I got distracted and ended up buying the Gawker t-shirt you are ‘advertising’ above.

  5. William Mize says:

    That’s freakin’ evil!
    And a great idea.

    But too often, folks are going to put that ‘impulse purchase’ on their credit card and not pay cash, thereby rendering this idea moot.

  6. SadSam says:

    I do this on amazon.com. I put all kinds of awesome stuff in my cart (some stuff has been sitting there for months) and every month or so I go on amazon.com and if I still really want the book or cd (and can’t drag myself to the library) I buy it. I also like to leave stuff sitting in my amazon.com cart because it also tracks the rise and fall of the price and when the price gets super low I consider that in my purchasing decision making process.

  7. wring says:

    I do this w/ the clothes I buy. I save the receipts and tags, just to soothe the impulse. When I come around a week/month or so, I return the item that I’m not dying to keep.

  8. howie_in_az says:

    @William Mize: All the more reason to get a prepaid Visa/Mastercard and give yourself an allowance per paycheck or per month.

  9. Geekybiker says:

    @wring: Okay that is abusing the return system. If you’re not going to keep it, dont buy it. It costs them money to sell it to you, more money to take it back. In the meantime the value may have fallen, or it has gone of season, etc.

  10. rdm24 says:

    Sounds brilliant. But anyone this organized probably doesn’t have a real problem with impulse shopping to begin with!

  11. djyox says:

    hasn’t this idea been posted a few times already? Not that its bad advice, but like RDM24 said…

  12. mac-phisto says:

    i don’t think this is a very good idea for people that have a real spending problem. what’s to keep someone from following this system to the letter for 6 months & then saying “oh, f- it” & wiping out all the accounts? discipline, right? except, by definition, impulse buyers don’t have discipline!

    there was a time when i would impulse buy quite frequently. now, my shopping is more structured than before & i do take advantage of a “cooling off” period of anywhere from a few days to a few weeks (which i also use to scan online merchants, thrift shops & tag sales for a better deal).

    when those times come that i’m drawn to shop for nothing in particular, i go to the store without money – no cash, no cards, no checks. that works best for me.

  13. theblackdog says:

    @William Mize: That is why I’m leaving my credit card at home from now on.

  14. CaptainLunchmeat says:

    I would have to agree with Mac-Phisto and the like… This post speaks of someone who has made the paradigm shift from Impulse Spender to Protracted Saver. However, it does demand that you take a few extra steps to actually make a purchase (assuming the typical balance of both the Emigrant account AND the Electric Orange accounts are zero until an item it selected, AND the shopper typically has no easy access to other accounts.)
    A stronger approach would be to put $20 cash in your wallet and deposit all income into your spouse’s accounts… Accounts to which you have NO DIRECT ACCESS. Spend a year having to convince SOMEONE ELSE that a purchase is justified and you will learn how to have that argument with yourself!