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Is impulse buying always a bad thing?

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Some unplanned purchases might actually be good for your budget.

Key points

  • Impulse buying can often cause people to go over budget or go into debt.
  • But a new survey reports that these purchases helped many people save money in the long run when they found the items they needed at lower prices.

Impulse buying is generally seen as problematic when it comes to money management philosophies. Suppose you budget a certain amount to save and a certain amount to spend. If you then buy something you hadn’t planned on, it could push you beyond your limits and possibly even land you in credit card debt.

But is it possible that impulse buying isn’t always bad news? A new study conducted by Slickdeals suggests that might be the case.

Here’s how impulse buying can help you save

According to the Slickdeals survey, 58% of Americans said an unplanned purchase actually saved them money. This is surprising, since the same survey revealed that the average person spends $314 per month on unplanned purchases.

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The reason is simple, however. Some people who make impulse or unplanned purchases do so because an item they intended to buy at one point quickly turned out to be on sale for a good price. For example, according to the survey, 35% of people who made an impulse purchase said they bought clothes unexpectedly, and 30% said they bought food or groceries without having planned to. .

Food and clothing are basic necessities that people need to buy all year round. Suppose an impulse purchase allows someone to get an item of clothing they need for work or school at a lower price because they found the item on sale. In this case, it would be a good thing because they would not have to buy this item later at a higher price. Likewise, if someone splurges on a food item on sale, it could end up lowering their grocery bill.

How to Impulse Buy to Help Rather Than Hurt Your Finances

Although the majority of Americans have indicated that impulse buying is good for their finances, that doesn’t mean that every unplanned purchase is worth it. There are a few keys to making sure you’re making the right decision for your personal finances when making an impulse purchase.

First of all, you don’t want to spend more than you can afford. Even if you get a good deal on an item of clothing, for example, you wouldn’t want to buy it if you didn’t have the money to pay for it. Otherwise, the credit card interest you’d pay would likely dwarf the savings you’d get from taking advantage of the discount.

Second, make sure your impulse purchases are for things you really need or splurges you really enjoy. To do this, it can be helpful to keep a list of items you need to buy next. If you see one on sale, you can buy it right away at this discounted price. And if something doesn’t appear on your list, you can wait 24 hours before continuing with the purchase. This will give you some time to think about whether this is something you really want.

Following these guidelines can help ensure that your impulse buys help you financially — rather than end up being something you’ll regret.