The Easiest Way to Fail Financially

By: Steve Kroening

There you are, walking down the store aisle, and you see it. "It" can be anything from a candy bar to a magazine to some tool you've wanted for months. It doesn't cost much, so you go ahead and buy it.

It's called impulse buying, and it's one of the biggest hindrances to your financial wellbeing. While each item may not cost much, impulse buying is one of the primary reasons so many people are in serious debt. Credit cards make impulse buying all too easy. So how can you control the impulse? Here are a few easy steps:

1. Don't go to the store. It's tough to get impulses if you don't subject yourself to the temptation. Of course, you can't avoid stores altogether, but you can limit your trips to only those times when you really need something. This really helped me cut down on impulse buying. I used to stop by a store just to see what was on sale. When I made the decision not to go shopping unless I really needed something, my spending was cut significantly.

2. Make a list -- and stick to it. When you do go to the store, make a list and buy only those things on the list. It's simple. And it works!

3. Take only enough cash to buy exactly what you need. Leave those credit cards at home. If you don't have them, you won't be able to follow-through on any impulses you may have. Taking the right amount of cash will help you stick to your list.

4. Make a rule to delay all unnecessary purchases for at least one day. When you see something you really want, tell yourself you'll think about it and come back later when you know you need it. Well-known financial author Larry Burkett says this made a huge impact on his spending when he started using it. He said in his book Your Finances in Changing Times, "The reason (it made such an impact) was obvious: once I left the store, the impulse passed."

Those people who plan out their spending and follow their plan the closest are the ones who find the most financial success in life. Impulse spending is what happens when you either have no plan or don't follow your plan. And it will set you back every time.

Budgets are a great way to impede impulse buying. But they aren't a sure-fire answer. In fact, if budgets aren't handled properly, they can actually tempt you to spend frivolously, so make sure you use them wisely.

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