This Simple Rule Has Reduced My Impulse Purchases

by Christy Bieber | Published on Nov. 20, 2021

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A woman holding a lot of shopping bags.

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Could this easy-to-follow tip work for you, too?

Key points

  • Avoiding impulse purchases can be a challenge because they're made without advanced planning.
  • The 24-hour rule can reduce random splurges and help you avoid going over budget.

Impulse purchases used to be a big problem for me. I'd see something online or in a store that caught my attention and I'd end up buying it. This made it more difficult to save as much money as I wanted, and had me constantly adjusting my budget to avoid going into credit card debt.

To make sure this wasn't a continued issue, I started living by a simple rule many years ago. Since I put my new plan in place, I've virtually eliminated impulse buys and my finances are better for it. Here's the rule that I now make sure to follow.

This has made all the difference in curbing spontaneous spending

The rule I put in place that's made a huge impact on my spending is called the 24-hour rule. Here's how it works: If I want to make an impulse purchase, I commit to waiting 24 hours before I go through with it.

Often, during this waiting period, I end up realizing that I don't actually want the item that I thought I did. Or I'll find out that it might have seemed like a nice idea, but it isn't worth the trouble to go back and buy it after the delay. As a result, I often don't make the purchase at all.

The 24-hour rule forces me to take time to evaluate whether spending on an item is worth it, which isn't possible when I'm just buying something in the heat of the moment. This retrospection makes all the difference and reduces the power slick advertising has to prompt consumers to reach for their credit cards without careful consideration.

In situations where I end up deciding to go through with buying something, I usually end up being really happy that I did since it's now a well-considered purchase rather than a random splurge. The 24-hour waiting period also gives me the opportunity to research the item more carefully, read reviews, and compare prices from different sources so I get the best deal. I end up getting more value for my money with the things I buy.

How to institute a 24-hour buying rule

The 24-hour rule is a common one that works for many people, not just for me. It's something you could also use in your own life if you struggle with impulse spending.

If you want to put this rule in place for yourself, there are different ways to do it. Most people set a purchase minimum before applying the rule. For example, I don't wait 24-hours to buy items valued at $50 or less -- I only do it for more expensive items. You could set your own threshold based on your earnings.

Some people also commit to waiting 24 hours for each $100 an item costs. So an item priced from $0 to $100 would require 24 hours of consideration, one priced from $200 to $300 would require 48 hours, and so on. I haven't taken this tactic because I've found 24 hours is enough for me to fully consider my choices.

The important thing is for each individual to find a solution that works for their specific needs to curb spending that they end up regretting. You can customize the rule in a way that helps you do just that.

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