Here on the MYJAR blog we love helping people get to grips with their finances and improve their financial outlook.
We’ve found that whenever we speak to people who are struggling with their budget, the same problems keep coming up: unexpected payments. Be that budget leaks, impulse purchases or some other type of unplanned expense.
Some unexpected payments aren’t always possible to account for, but avoiding impulse shopping simply requires a bit of a change in attitude and a little willpower.
That said, impulse shopping remains a huge issue - with a MYJAR survey* reporting that Brits spend nearly £144k in ‘impulse buys’ over a lifetime. Apparently, every month we make an average of nine impulse buys, equating to 6,512 poorly-planned purchases during a lifetime.
From chocolate and sweets to new sofas, the nation confesses to regularly buying on impulse, spending an incredible £198.87 on average per month.
Top 25 items we buy on impulse:
- Chocolate bars/sweets
- Takeaways/fast food
- Fizzy drinks/coffee or similar
- Beauty products such as hair care, make up etc.
- Toys for the kids/young family relative
- Knick knacks for friends/family
- Accessories such as bags or jewellery
- Treats/toys for your pet
- Home items such as new laundry basket or bed linen
- Kitchen items such as plates, pots etc.
- New gadgets
- Home décor such as paintings, rugs etc.
- Kitchen gadgets such as a blender
- Mobile phone
The survey of 2,000 UK adults revealed that Brits part with £18,393.91 on impulse-bought fashion items over their adult life, shortly followed by £17,807.80 in food shop purchases.
We also splurge an average of £19,204.34 on impulse purchases on tech, with toiletries and beauty product purchases making a £10,029.10 dent in UK wallets.
And a whopping average of £9,544.28 is spent on treats and toys for our pets over a lifetime.
“It’s Just a Few Pounds Here and There”
These impulse buys may seem innocent at the time, but this survey exposes how the accumulation of unplanned purchases can add up and be devastating to your budget and savings over time.
It’s unsurprising that payday makes it more likely for people to part with their cash, with over one third of respondents more likely to buy on impulse just after payday.
Brits also admitted that they are more likely to part with their pounds in-store than online. One in five admit to caving into a spur of the moment desire when items are by the till or within reach when queueing.
13 per cent succumb to marketing, admitting they buy on a whim after seeing an advert, and seven in 10 admitted that they are more likely to make an impulse purchase when something is on offer.
More than one in five confess to buying a holiday spontaneously, with nearly one in ten compulsively forking out on a new car.
Food gets plenty of people purchasing without thought, with over half popping a cheeky chocolate bar in their shopping trolley that they weren’t planning on getting, and 38 per cent of people purchasing unplanned takeaways or fast food.
Four in 10 admit to turning to retail therapy, buying spontaneous items to cheer themselves up.
As a result, nearly one third will experience ‘purchase regret’ when buying something they didn’t plan to.
The study revealed that one quarter of Brits will have arguments with their partner over things they’ve bought without a second thought.
We believe that it’s imperative that people fully understand and comprehend any financial decision they make. As a responsible lender, we aim to help people learn how to manage their money more effectively through our money-saving content on our blog. We suggest following the below rules in order to crack down on impulse buys:
1) Stick meticulously to your shopping list. If you didn’t need it at home, you don’t need it now that you’ve seen it in store.
2) Have you budgeted for the purchase this month? If not, consider incorporating it into next month’s budget.
3) Give yourself a minimum of 24 hours to let the purchase thrill temptation wear off.
4) Keep your receipts for the whole of the return period, just in case you don’t use/wear whatever you impulse-bought.
5) For clothing items, if you don’t wear the item within days of buying it, consider returning it. You should be excited to wear something straight away or perhaps you don’t love it as much as you thought you did!
6) Also for clothing items, does it go well with all your other clothing? Does it fit perfectly and make you feel great? If not, consider skipping it.
7) Can you borrow something similar from a friend/family member/neighbour instead of buying?
8) Imagine having the money sitting in your wallet or bank account and the amount of time, effort and hours it took to earn that money. Does the purchase still seem necessary and appealing?
9) Consider if the purchase aligns with your savings goals, and whether it is an investment in your future.
10) Whenever you buy something which wasn’t on your shopping list, match the payment amount with a deposit into your savings account. This encourages saving and makes everything ‘twice as expensive’. If you still want to buy it, you’re also saving!
*The survery was conducted October 2017, on behalf of MYJAR with 2,000 unique individuals in the UK.