Clever Ways to Delay Instant Purchase Gratification
Consumer Purchases are Driven by Our Emotions
When all it takes to buy something you are interested in is to plug in a number, or swipe with your hand, what’s preventing your emotions from taking over and making rash, irrational decisions? If there was a spectrum for frugality from 1 to 10, with 1 being bankruptcy and 10 being Warren Buffett (richest person in the world, yet still lives in the same house he bought in 1958 for $31,000), I would firmly sit at an 8.
Even at the higher end of the frugality spectrum, at times I have been prone to letting my emotions control my purchasing decisions. One of the areas where I’ve been the most guilty in doing this is in the search for knowledge based information. An example of this would be when I started this blog back in late December. At that time I had a ton of frustration with not knowing how to effectively and efficiently use the WordPress platform. So, I ran over to the local library to see if they had a copy of WordPress for Dummies. They did, however, it was currently out, so I placed a hold on it.
I felt like I had to have this book right away, despite the fact that all of its contents could probably be found one way or another on the WordPress site or elsewhere online. But I just couldn’t take it, so I jumped onto Amazon and purchased the book, as well as another I had been interested in at the time. That was back in January. It’s now April and I’ve only gotten halfway through the book (because I had found that my curiosity drove me to already knowing 95% of the material in the book), and I haven’t even touched the other book. Had I been rational, I would have waited for both books to be checked in to the library and not spent a dime. The emergency was all in my head.
It’s all about wants vs. needs. And it’s easy to turn wants into needs.
So, how do you delay that instant emotional purchase gratification and fight shopping addiction?
Credit cards can be a necessary beast for some purchases and automatic bill pays. Hotels, car rentals, some form of deposits come to mind. They can also be beneficial if you know how to use credit cards responsibly. But, for the most part, you really don’t need them, especially if you are quick to use them. One of 20Something’s readers and frequent commentators, Stephanie, recently shared the idea of taking your credit card (and I would venture to say debit card if you have one) and freezing it in water. Here’s the idea laid out:
- Take your credit (and debit) card and place it in Tupperware or a plastic bag.
- Fill container with water.
- Place in freezer.
- If you feel the need to make a purchase, pull your frozen card out of the freezer and let thaw. When doing this, ask yourself if this purchase is really worth the hassle of thawing your card and if you are letting emotions control your purchasing decision.
Other ways to delay consumer gratification
I really liked this idea and began to brainstorm other ways you could make your card less accessible. Here are some ideas that came to mind:
- Place your card in your safety deposit box at your bank.
- Place your card in a locked box in your attic (my attic is terribly inaccessible, so this would work for me).
- Place your card in a lock box, and bury in your backyard. Any time you feel the need, you have to dig it up.
- Cover your card in peanut butter and place in a Ziploc. We all know how hard peanut butter is to clean off of anything.
Let’s hear your ideas on how to fight impulsive buying
I thought it would be a heck of a lot of fun to turn it over to you to see what kind of ideas you have for delaying instant purchase gratification. Please share!