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Taking a Time Out on Impulse Purchases

You have gone to a store to buy something specific and then something you had no intention of buying catches your eye – most likely something on sale.  Maybe you are online and read about something that sounds useful. Maybe you are talking to some friends and they recommend books they have just read. What do you do?

Here’s what I do.  I either put it in my Amazon cart right there on the spot or take a picture with my phone.  My Amazon cart is like a “things I would like to have” storage location.  I am able to move things around from my actual cart to a “save for later” section.  I currently have nineteen pages of “save for later” items, most of which are books that I want to read, but if purchased right now would become bookcase clutter.

There are the rare items not offered by Amazon.  These I keep as pictures in my phone until I can move them to my designated folder in my DropBox (a file I can share with my husband) or in a hard file on my desk, both titled “wishes.”  Digital pictures go into DropBox and papers, like those from catalogs, go in the desktop version.

What kinds of things make it into my “save for laters” or “wishes?”   Gift ideas, lots and lots of books, things that I would like to have but need to think on it, like a crushed velvet shoe hanger, and we use it as a wish list for my kids for birthdays and Christmas.  They have a designated day to put what they would like to have in the Amazon cart and I make my decisions from there.

By using this system, I am able to alleviate the impulse of a purchase and chew on it for a few days.  I am also able to compare prices when necessary, making me a smarter consumer.  There is tons of research on the benefits of giving yourself at least a 24-hour waiting period before making an unplanned purchase.  On the Psychology Today website, Kelly McGonigal mentioned the benefits of a somewhat shorter pause:

“Neuroscientists have found that having to wait even ten minutes for a reward dramatically reduces the brain’s response to it. If you can walk out of a store, or switch to a different website, for just 10 minutes, you’ll see the ‘value’ of that purchase more clearly.”

If you see an item that captures your interest, sleep on it. Make it a rule that if you see something you want that you didn’t specifically go shopping for, you’ll wait 48 hours before buying it.  For a slightly different approach, author Larry Wall says, “Don’t buy something until you’ve wanted it three times.

Different strategies will work for different people, but finding one that works for you will save you money and help minimize clutter.




Jennifer Snyder, Certified Professional Organizer 

Neat as a Pin Organizing Experts


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Categories:  Organizing Tips

About the Author

Jennifer Snyder

Jennifer Snyder

My name is Jennifer Snyder CPO, Chief Executive Organizer of Neat as a Pin Organizing Experts, a Waco-based company of Professional Organizers that is not only focused on organizing the clutter in your home or office but also clutter of the heart and mind. 

I am happy that you are taking an interest in the benefits of getting your home and life organized.  Living an organized life is for everyone!

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