Curb Impulse Buying with the “30 Day Rule”

I will have to admit – I’m a people watcher.  I love to sit and watch people and see what outfits they have on.  I tend to covet certain items that other people have – sort of like when you are out shopping and someone picks up an item, I just have to watch them and read their thoughts.. did they like it?  Why did they put it down? etc.  I tend to keep a notebook and jot down fashion ideas that I like and want to see if I can seek out – a new trench coat, pair of brown boots, etc.  Usually its whatever the trend of the season is and I like to see if it will be a staple in my wardrobe.  By writing my ideas down and revisiting them later, I am evaluating whether or not I really need an item.  Can I live without it? Sure, but do I want to?
This translates outside of the latest fashion trend though and will work for any “big ticket” item that you are currently contemplating buying.  It can be used with the general “30 Day Rule” in personal finance to help you curb your impulse buying.  The “30 Day Rule” is if you are considering a major purchase, you should wait at least 30 days before making the actual purchase to ensure that it’s a necessary purchase.  It will help you to take a step back from the urge to purchase and see if it’s really something that you cannot live without.
For instance, I was looking at new computers over the weekend.  My computer is not broken, but it is a smaller netbook and I would like to upgrade it to a full sized computer as I am not traveling so much with my computer anymore.  I went with my computer savvy boyfriend to Best Buy and looked at my options.  It was good to look and take in what is available to me… then I walked away from the situation.  I’m still thinking about my options, but I’m not making an impulsive decision as that is when you can get yourself in over your head.  The best solution to this is to research all your options and then take a step back and see if you still have the urge to purchase the item.  At this moment, I still have not purchased a new computer but its still on my back burner.  The urge is still there, but I have not found exactly what I’m looking for yet!
Another factor that I always use when purchasing a “big ticket” item is to calculate how many hours I need to work in order to purchase the item.  If the amount of hours is overwhelming to me, then I might need to rethink that purchase.  There are far too many things in life that I have purchased over the years that just tend to sit after the novelty has worn off.
Are there any tricks that you use to justify a “big ticket” item?  Has the “30 Day Rule” worked for you?

16 Responses to “Curb Impulse Buying with the “30 Day Rule””

  1. I generally *think* about big purchases long before even actually scoping out the options…I had months to think about buying a dSLR for example, so that when the right opportunity came up I only needed a day or so to think about it. I think the 30day rule can be very valuable, although it can probably be shortened to a week or less depending on the person/situation.
    eemusings recently posted..Wednesday Warblings

  2. Great article. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked myself into thinking I needed something because it was simply sitting in front of me for sale. I’ll be keeping this in mind the next time I’m at best buy…

    And get a Mac – they’re a little more expensive, but MUCH more reliable and will last longer than a PC

  3. @eemusings – I agree, I could do with a “7 Day Rule” instead of the “30 Day Rule” because you just need to be honest with yourself about whether or not you actually need the item!

    @your insurance guy – while I do like the Macs, my accounting software does not operate on the Macs and I would be buying the computer for my home office :( I still have an ipad though! Yay Macs!

  4. I think the “30 Day Rule” is brilliant. And sometimes at the end of the 30 days, you do still want it, but feel better about the purchase with much less buyer’s remorse.

    I also think it applies to other impulses, like tattoos. Wait at least 30 days (Heck, I say a year), now think back, do you REALLY want a Zelda tattoo on your calf?

  5. @Lisa – if you have a Zelda tattoo, I will die! I agree though tattoos are always impulse and rather expensive.. good to wait 30 days or a year to see if you really want it. Reminds me of a kid from high school that got a tweety bird playing hockey on his arm – I’m SURE that he regrets that impulse buy now!

  6. First, love your blog! Lots of great tips for us 20-somethings to live by! The 30 Day Rule is a good tip (my mom had a similar ‘policy’ when I was young, by waiting 4 days and tracking the number of times I’d use the item I wanted…always worked!). However, I find that a lot of my expenses come from the little things that add up each month. For instance, my job requires me to wear pantyhose (HATE!!), and I feel like I’m at the store spending $5 on them every other day, as I can’t get through a day without a snag! Pile that on top of Starbucks, going out, grocery store visits that are always over budget, and other pop-up expenses, and its the small stuff that I curse when looking at my bank statement! Any advice there?

  7. @Kim – totally agree with you that the small stuff ends to add up more for me than any of the big purchases! My trips to CVS, Target, etc to get a “few” things always end up being more than I budgeted for. I’m working on some new posts about buy generic and will start on some for small things that just pop up. Thanks for the idea :)

  8. I think that not having money for a while has forced me into that habit and made me realize how easy it is to be frivolous with your money! This is a good tip, I am going to use it! :)

  9. I actually did a 30-day No Shopping Challenge and using a list really helped take the “suck” out of cutting out even the smallest of purchases for 30 days! I started a file on my computer where I’d list whatever I was longing for and normally would have purchased right away…yoga pants, a ring off Etsy, adorable platform grey suede pumps…sometimes I’d provide the link so I could be sure to find it again later if I was really “In love.”

    I found that I ended up not buying several things and the things I did buy, I was able to curb the impulse long enough to wait for it to go on sale or find a coupon. If the item was gone before I could buy it- I didn’t really miss it!

    I’ve noticed my impulse buys are the worst- especially at the Dollar Store or those “little things” I get while out are the things that really add up, so I try to curb it as much as possible!
    Shannyn recently posted..Beauty Review- Drug Store vs Dept Store Gels

  10. Ladies, I couldnt agree more! It’s those little things that add up! I can never get out of Target for under $50.
    This 30 day rule is very interesting to me as I am a serious impulse buyer with fashion. It’s not my fault, I’m obsessed! With electronics and cars however, I do wait and do my research.
    I worked with a client last week who told me she had splurged too much recently on new clothes, so to show her how to use those best in her existing wardrobe and she was not going to buy anything else all summer! This woman is quit the shopper, I thought going the entire would just result in another splurge from withdrawals. So I made enough new outfits out of her existing wardrobe to last her 30 days and curb her shopping temptations for at least a month. Who knew I was unconsciously following the 30 day rule?!
    Tricia recently posted..How I choose an outfit everyday

  11. […] Target – stick to your list of items that you made prior to walking into the store, use the 30 Day Rule for big items and try to only use the baskets because my philosophy is to only buy what you can […]

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  15. wow! 3o days is such a long time..but I guess I better try this as I have always been an impulse buyer! This is really worth reading and trying.
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