Impulsive spending v long term financial stability

Updated: Aug 28, 2019

We’ve all had that moment when we have checked our bank account on a Monday and wondered where Fridays balance has disappeared to.

A quick look at the receipts from popping out to the shops on the Saturday or the quick after work drink and all of a sudden you realise the location of the missing monies and the buyers regret of our actions takes hold.

Impulsive spending is an action that we have all periodically suffered from and whilst it is good to occasionally splash out, regularly doing it can affect our aim for longer term financial security. So how do we control these urges and use our resources in the best way whilst still enjoying life and buying things that although bought on impulsive still give us great value for money. Here are two tips to doing so:

1) The 3 Day want Rule

Most purchases are made for the desire of the gratification of the purchase and not for the actual purchase of the item. How many times have we been out shopping and bought something just to justify the trip out? If we go shopping and don’t purchase anything then we are disappointed and see it as a waste of time rather than accepting that there were no products out there that we needed on that trip.


On the trips where we have just bought something for the gratification of buying something with the excuses to ourselves of how it may be suitable, but, in reality, it ends up at the back of a cupboard and never actually used. The reason for that is because when you get home and look at it with a logical mind you end up realising that you never actually needed it or wanted it.


The 3 day rule states that if you see something that you want then you should wait 3 days before actually buying it. This delay will lead to one of two possible outcomes.

  • It will increase your desire for the product and lead to you realising that you do actually want/need this item.

  • It will decrease your lust for the product and make you appreciate that you were only buying the product on impulse and wasting your money on it.

Either way you will either buy a product with an increased desire for it and therefore will utilise it more or you will not buy it due to not actually need it and save your money on a wasted purchase.

Source 1: (Slickdeals, 2018)

2) Lifetime cost of the product

This is always a difficult calculation to make as we don’t actually know the lifetime of most products but with a few educated guesses you can get a good idea of the viability of a purchase. This is especially useful when buying trend products against standard products.


For example, if you buy a pair of trendy trainers for £150 compared to a normal pair of trainers that cost £50. The trendy trainers will probably have a shelf life of 6 months before the ‘new trendy’ trainers come out, whereas the normal trainers will probably have a useful life of two years.

So looking at the maths:

Trendy trainers: £150/6 months = 82p per day usage

Normal trainer: £50/2 years = 7p per day usage

Whilst this is a simplistic way of looking at it as it does ignore the desire on an individual product, when it used against a basket of impulse purchases then you can see that the daily costs start to add up and you will start to prioritise which ones are worth the cost and which ones are not.


Life is for living and the occasional impulse purchase is fine, but if it is a problem and you do have a wardrobe full of instant gratification purchases then it may be worth having a go with these rules to see if it affects how you approach purchasing.


At MWS we help our client’s budget for many life events including house purchase, weddings, school fees planning and retirement. Why not pop in to have a MOT on your finances and see if there is room to use your money more effectively.

#moneytips #savings #purchase #financialservices #financialadviser #financialadvice #MWS

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