A Strategy to Minimize Impulse Purchases


“Delaying consumption does not drive people to unmitigated self-denial. Rather, it drives them to maximize their happiness, whatever form that takes.”

from Happy Money


Two big themes in this blog, delaying consumption and happiness, are inextricably tied. As Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton note in their terrific book, Happy Money, research has shown that “waiting, even briefly, for something as simple as a Hershey’s Kiss makes it taste better when we get it.” Now, telling that to your school-age child isn’t necessarily the BEST strategy. You’re more likely to generate a puss face than a “Thanks, Dad, what a terrific lesson I’m learning sitting here staring at that uneaten bowl of Lucky Charms.” But another theme from this blog, the importance of parental modeling, is a bit more the point here. Actually delaying our own consumption – which I know ain’t always easy – and then talking to our kids about how it felt before and after will be more mearningful when you implement the strategy to minimize impulse purchases below. And research tell us that we’ll be happier doing so.


“But I have the money in my Save jar and I don’t have a goal right now. I’ve been thinking awhile about this,” whines your daughter. “Yeah, I’m sure you have, kid,” you think to yourself. But how do you deal with this conundrum? She has the money, and the philosophy behind your allowance – at least what you’ve been told by some blogging yahoo – is to give her control over that money. A simple and effective method to address the scenario in which your child wants something and the Spend Smart jar cash is insufficient? Have her wait a week. Our experience has been that she’ll forget about the purchase. If not, then maybe it is something she really did want. You can add another level for items that are even more expensive: over $50, $100, $200. It’s different for different families. She has to wait two or more weeks. Again, your decide how long your child has to wait. 


Who knows, maybe you’ll even find that she’s happy with the decision a few weeks later. And maybe you will be too.


Creator & Chief Mammal
The Money Mammals


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