Avoiding Overspending

You arrive home, exhausted and drop armfuls of bags on the floor. You’re back from a trip to the shopping malls and only now are you starting to feel that flush of regret and embarrassment come over you. As you take out your shiny new purchases from their bright carrier bags, you might well be asking yourself ‘should I have bought that? Take heart, because you’re not alone.

Regrets over things we probably shouldn’t have bought are widespread these days and it’s tempting to shrug off your overspending habit and forget about it. Some people find that using  a prepaid credit cards helps guard against their impulsive shopping tendencies as this limits the amount they can spend. Others won’t leave home unless they’re in the company of a friend, whose good sense and wise advice, they hope, will save them from themselves.

Many find that the sales are the biggest danger zone of all. They leave for the shops, full of good intentions. Their mission might be to pick up a new coat and, they reason with themselves, they’re also bound to get a bargain with all the offers that are in the stores at the moment. Three hours later, they’re home. You could search through the carrier bags all you like, but you won’t find anything resembling a coat. Unless, that is, you have a very good imagination. Well, they could always keep warm this winter by wrapping up in that shocking pink king size duvet cover, on offer at 50% off and practically perfect, except it doesn’t have any pillow cases to go with it…

Or, at a pinch, they could always curl up in the strikingly patterned, luxury fleece lined dog basket that was so cheap it was practically being given away?

These examples of impulse purchases are somewhat extreme, but most of us buy things that we don’t need, won’t use and are likely to end up in the charity bag after spending a few years at the back of a cupboard.

A lot of research has been carried out into what makes people buy on impulse and it seems that what it boils down to is that our emotions and feelings play a huge part in our purchasing decisions. Retailers have wised up to this and do everything in their power to make sure that they exploit our receptiveness to suggestion. A great example of this is the way in which sweets and all manner of tempting products are placed just before you get to the supermarket till.

You didn’t even know you wanted chocolate, but there it is, just in front of your eyes. Next second, it’s in your shopping cart. There’s another way in which your impulse to buy can be triggered. If you see a picture of your favorite celebrity, holding up an electrical gadget of some description, you’ll be far more disposed to buy it than if there was a simple display of hundreds of boxes of said gadget. Your interest and passion have been stirred by the celebrity association and emotion has triumphed over reason.

For those who seem fated to repeat their impulse buying mistakes again and again, it’s time to take some drastic measures.

1. It’s good to make a list and stick to it. That piece of paper should be in your hand the whole time you’re out shopping and if it’s not on the list, it doesn’t get bought.

2. Avoid sales. If you weren’t going to buy it at full price, the fact that it’s reduced is no excuse either. Prepaid credit cards can also help as they keep your spending spree to a pre-arranged limit. By using prepaid credit cards, you can still shop for the things you need but will be less likely to be tempted by those other ‘bargains’.


  1. I never regret what I buy during the holiday seasons because it is mostly for the ones I love. I highly enjoy spending money on others. I never go into debt over it and I never impulse buy. If I did that I would walk out of the store with nothing. I have to have a list or I get overwhelmed! Great article.

  2. This is one reason why I wait until the last minute to shop for Christmas gifts. I find that the earlier I shop, the more I tend to spend. I will probably start shopping this year around the 21st.

  3. I always keep a list of items when I got to the grocery store. If I don’t, I end up spending a lot more, getting things I don’t need and spending much more time in the store than I planned.

  4. I think a lot of people could also save some money by bringing only cash into the store. Some people overspend because they get a good deal an can just put it on their credit card. Maybe sticking the cash necessary to get only what’s on your list could make a diffeence.

  5. I think those pre-paid cards are great and they’re insurance you don’t overspend. Everyone should do it and it would lead to a lot less budget-busting Christmases, in my book.

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