10 Reasons to Reconsider That Impulse Purchase
Whether it's a flash sale or a day-one release, everyone has that weak spot that triggers them to buy before thinking. Keep these reminders all up in your brainparts next time you're tempted, and it might help you resist that (probably useless) impulse purchase.
It won't make you happy.
Tracking down the last Batman: The Animated Series action figure you missed when you were a child is thrilling, sure. But what are you actually going to do with it? Sit around and…think about how glad you are you own it?
Nah, it's gonna go to the back of your mind (and your closet). A growing body of research indicates that spending money on experiences instead of stuff makes us happier.
You can get it cheaper later.
You know what sucks? Buying Season 1 of a TV show the week that it comes out, then seeing it for, like, $10 on Amazon half a year later and remembering that you've only watched the first two episodes. Don't let false urgency dictate your spending habits.
It's probably going to depreciate.
Who else here has a tub of Beanie Babies from their childhood that even Goodwill won't take? Anybody? Bueller?
The problem with “collectibles” is that they're usually only valuable because they're rare. That means the things that are collectible now are the things nobody saw coming and nobody kept. And the stuff that everyone bought because they thought it was an investment—like Beanie Babies—is worth next to nothing.
That money isn't just money.
Cash is never just cash. It's time.
Think about it—the price tag for that shirt you just have to have represents a measurable number of hours you work. Think about how many hours your impulse purchase represents and then decide if it's worth it.
It will embarrass you later.
Maybe you really, really love new tech. Awesome! Have you ever been to an estate sale, and found a book on, like, “Intro to Windows 3.1!” or a Commodore VIC 20? In 20 years, that's what your first-generation Apple watch will look like.
You don't know if it's good or not.
Look at it this way—have you ever upgraded the software on your phone, only to find it slashed your battery life in half? Or downloaded the latest OS for your laptop and then learned your favorite software won't work on it?
If it's ever happened to you, you probably don't do that anymore. You wait a couple of months, learn what the bugs are, and then decide if you want to upgrade. When you're the first person in line for a new tech toy, you're signing up to be that first guy—the guy who doesn't know what problems he's getting into. And you're paying hundreds of dollars for the privilege.
Something better will come along soon.
Part of what makes tech so exciting is that things are always getting better. And the world is weird and sometimes diving into a field that's constantly improving is comforting, deep down on a level nobody really wants to admit. But that's also what makes impulse-buying new tech so pointless.
There's a new model of iPhone and Galaxy roughly every year. At any given point, you're only about 6 months away from a new-and-improved product, or a massive price drop on an old one. There's never a bad time to jump into that cycle, just like there's honestly never a good time. So just wait until you actually need a new phone.
It wastes more money than you might realize.
When you play a video game, a little counter pops up over your head when you step into a shop. The counter helpfully tells you how much you have in your bank account, and lets you carefully weigh your decisions.
In the real world, we don't have that. So it's really easy to swipe your debit card or 1-Click Purchase a bunch of small stuff on Amazon, without realizing how much those little things add up to a huge bill.
The thing isn't going anywhere.
Maybe if your favorite artist is selling an original work, then yeah, there's only one chance to get something. But things that are mass-produced, like tech or video games? You have time to wait.
In fact, in the case of video games, you'll get more value if you do wait. How many people here have shelled out $60 for a video game, then another $30 for DLC, only to have all of that come out a year later in a “Game of the Year Edition” that costs $20?
There are better ways to treat yourself.
We're not suggesting you just never buy anything fun—we're just suggesting you think about it. Make an entertainment budget as part of your regular budget, and get something nicer and cooler than whatever it is that just caught your eye on a whim. Plus you get the smug satisfaction of knowing you waited, and that's priceless.