Wednesday, March 25, 2015

#40 One week wait time for impulsive purchases over $100

About 3 months ago, a friend of mine showed me her new juicer.  I had just watched Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead a few days prior and I was feeling all jazzed about juicing and wanted to see one in action.  It looked a bit like a mini rocket ship, all stainless steel and fancy-like.  That night, I went home and fantasized about what a juicer would look like in our kitchen.  I thought about how we could get a blender/juicer combo machine and replace our 15 year old, still fully functional, blender with something much more modern looking.  I scoured for the best deal on the blingy-est juicers imaginable.  I didn't realize blenders and juicers were so popular... and so expensive.  There were lots and lots of options.  I could have clicked buy button a few times, but I didn't.  I waited a few more days, fantasized about it some more... then after about a weeks time, I forgot all about it.

I recently began thinking about it again, but this time thinking that I'm not so sure I'm ready to get into juicing, and that blender we have still works just fine.... good enough for smoothies at least.  Phew! We saved ourselves about $400 and didn't end up with a shiny new 25 pound paperweight.  I'm sure glad I didn't rush out and impulsively buy one.  In our modern society, there are many many ways that businesses, organizations, and governments try to separate us from our money, and slick sales pitches and the latest rage suck people into buying all sorts of things they don't really need or want.  I believe that if we all exercised a little patience, and gave sober second thought time to work, we wouldn't buy so much "stuff" which leads people away from meeting their financial goals.

If we are out and about and we come across something that we want to buy but weren't planning on purchasing at that moment, we wont buy it without our standard waiting period of 1 week.  Impulse spending is something that we have pretty much cut out of our day-to-day shopping.  I can think of numerous times where I've been out shopping, seen something I was convinced that I really wanted but did not buy because it was over $100.  I've gone home and thought about it for a couple of days, chatted about it with Kim, and by the end of the week, I had forgotten about the product altogether.  The juicer is a perfect example of that.  Obviously this was a product that I could live without.

We as a couple have had this rule for over a decade and I can't think of an instance where we've broken the rule.  Of course there are times when we've spent money on things that were not in the plan because something came up... like a surprise $300 mechanic bill for the car for example, but we've never gone out for a walk in the shopping district with no intention of buying anything, seen a $200 lamp, and then bought it without giving it more significant thought.  This has stopped us from spending money on many things that we didn't need or didn't really want.  I would say that 80-90% of the things that we impulsively think about buying, we never buy.  This sober second thought check that we have in place prevents us from buying things we don't need or even want after a week or two.

This is not the same as going out, intending to spend $500 on work clothes, yet not knowing exactly what we are going to buy, but still coming home with $500 in work clothes.  In this case, it was part of our plan to go out and purchase $500 in goods.  If we need the clothes, we go out and buy them with conviction.  Its the impulsive purchases we want to eliminate.

Think about it.  

Some of the things we've thought about buying but after parking the idea for a week, we have not acted on, saving ourselves lots of money, are: various exercise machines, a juicer, fancy knives that can cut through a metal can, a motorcycle, bicycles, vacations, home improvements, furniture etc..

With that said, its not like we haven't bought some of the things that we've thought about for a week or more.  Its just that the extra week's time gave us enough time to think it over, ensure we had the money for it, and made sure it was aligned with our priorities.  Some of the things we HAVE bought after the 1 week wait have been: an exercise machine, bicycles, a motorcycle, home improvements, furniture.

We certainly are not doing without, but this added check we mentally have in place makes sure we don't buy stuff on a whim.  There is nothing magical about the $100 threshold.  We chose it as an arbitrary minimum that works for us.  The rule is, if its over $100, we wait, we chat about it, and if after a week we believe its worth getting, then we take action which may involve buying the item or adding to our sale watchlist.  Its not to say that we don't give everything we think about purchasing a similar level of scrutiny, but it does allow Kim or myself to go out, see a pair of shoes we like, and buy them without feeling the wrath of the other spouse.  I believe the value in the wait time is not so much the money value, but preventing buyers regret later on.

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