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How to Stop Impulsive Credit Card Spending

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By LaToya Irby. Credit/Debt Management Expert

Welcome to's Credit/Debt Management site, led by your guide, LaToya Irby. LaToya has been the credit and debt management guide since 2007. Read more

Impulsive credit card purchases feel good the instant you make the purchases and for a while after you enjoy whatever you’ve purchased. But, the honeymoon period ends once you get your credit card statement in the mail and you realize you actually have to pay for what you bought.

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Your spending impulses can cause you to rack up debt right from your living room by making phone or internet purchases. If you want to stop racking up credit card debt, you have to learn to control your impulses.

Learn the Cause Of Your Impulse Credit Card Purchases

What triggers your impulse spending? When you get the urge to make an impulsive credit card purchase, pay attention to how you’re feeling. Are you sad or angry about something? Are you trying to impress someone? Do you get a thrill form making credit card purchases?

Impulsive credit card spending is based on emotions. Paying attention to how you feel when you make impulsive credit card buys can help you get your credit card purchases under control.

Tips to Curb Impulsive Spending

Don’t buy right away. Keep an impulsive shopping list in your purse or wallet. Rather than make a purchase the instant you get the urge, write it down and think about it for at least one week. Give yourself a month for purchases more than $500. Then, if you still want the item and you can afford to purchase it, go back and buy it with cash.

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Plan your purchases. Don’t let things you see in the store dictate how you spend. Instead, plan your purchases by making a list before you shop. Avoid buying things that aren't

on your shopping list, giving an exception gives you an excuse to make even more exceptions.

Set spending priorities. Mortgage payment or new television? When you see the choice right in front of you, it seems easy enough. Yet, many people prioritize their spending based on what feels good rather than what makes sense. In the spur of the moment, you might find yourself spending your mortgage money on a new flat screen tv, then borrowing money from friends and family to pay your mortgage. Make a list of what’s most important and follow that list when it’s time to make credit card purchases. Take care of your needs before your wants.

Don’t deprive yourself. Some impulsive credit card spending comes from keeping your spending on such a tight leash that you never get to enjoy your money. Rather than starving yourself financially, allocate some money to spend on things you like. Keep your leisure spending in check, though, and be careful not to overspend.

Leave your credit cards at home. If you don’t have your credit card in your wallet, you can’t use it right? When you go shopping, carry only enough cash to buy the things that are on your list, not a penny more. Keep your priorities in mind and don’t make any unplanned purchases.

Shop with a partner. Shop with someone you can trust to help keep your spending in check. Make sure this person won’t an enabler to your spending impulses and will stop you from making purchases you haven’t planned and can’t afford.

Give in to your second thoughts. Don’t be afraid to put back something you know you really shouldn’t purchase, even if the clerk has already scanned it and put it into your basket. In the long run, it’s much better to put something back than it is to pay for it because you were too afraid not to purchase it.

Category: Credit

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