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How Much Time Does That Cost?

When on a diet, picture yourself skinny to curb cravings.  When on a budget, picture yourself at work to avoid impulse purchases.

You’ve probably heard that lots of small impulse buys can derail your budget.  Why is that?  The obvious answer would be that the more you spend, the less you save.  The less-obvious (but still not rocket science) answer would be that the little purchases are less noticable and therefore have a tendency to slip our attention.  $10 here, $10 there and pretty soon you are way off budget, in debt to Jabba the Hutt, and frozen in carbonite.  Just ask Han Solo.  I’m betting that you don’t have a line in your budget for “More Random Stuff I Couldn’t Resist at Walmart.”  If that’s the case, then these purchases are putting you over budget, and you will have to go above and beyond to pay for them.  When I was a 9-5er I used this little trick to stop myself from buying crap a Target:

Calculate how many more hours you would have to work to pay for that purchase.

Take a look just how much extra work some common impulse purchases require.  Picture yourself adding the time to a Friday afternoon.  Lets assume a $40,000/year salary, that’s about $33,000 after taxes.  So, $16/hour.

1. Magazine – $4.50 – 1/2 hour 

It’s there at the check-out stand, just begging you to touch it, flip through it, and toss it into your cart.  Martha Stewart, Real Simple, or whatever Manly Magazine you fellas are reading nowadays.  Prime location for impulse purchases: eye level, you are trapped in a corral, the beeping of items being rung up gives a sense of urgency.  

2. Scratch Lotto Tickets – $10 – 40 minutes 

Because you know you can’t buy just one.  40 minutes of extra work for a few moments of excitement.  I’ll admit that I do occasionally buy one Powerball ticket on the 13th, my lucky day.  When the spending starts creeping upward, is when the habit isn’t worth your time.

3. New Shirt – $30 – 2 hours 

Places that I used to think affordable, like Ann Taylor or Talbots, suddenly have their cheapest items priced close to $30.  Resisting the impulse and shopping the sales later can save you money, but more importantly, time

You may try to reason that the occasional splurge on a shirt won’t break the bank.  This is correct, a one time splurge will not ruin your budget; a bunch of “one time” splurges will. Are you really paying that much attention?

Might I Recommend:

5 Ways to Encourage Impulse Buys – See what the other side is up to.

Article publié pour la première fois le 20/07/2010

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