Welcome to another week of financial learning. We started a journey towards financial independence by tackling ways to managing financial excesses.
We discussed personal financial management perspective from Thulasimani Munohsamy in his paper titled “Personal Financial Management”. According to Thulasimani, taking charge of planning and managing our finances and putting it into practice is very important for every individual.
Personal responsibility is key if we want to overcome the subtle enemy of financial excuses.
I explained two of the ways by looking at the importance of personal budget and aligning our lifestyle to our income.
I will like us to discuss one of the other ways of managing financial excesses in our lives today.
The “how” I will talk about today is the devil “Impulse buying”. The Oxford dictionary defines impulse buying as “the buying of goods without planning to do so in advance, as a result of a sudden whim or impulse.”
Many of us are caught in the web of impulse buying. Psychology Today explains that Personality, pleasure, and product connections are the major causes of impulse buys. They added that our culture of consumption enables us to succumb to temptation and purchase something without considering the consequences of the buy.
Ian Zimmerman Ph.D. argues that “To control something, though, it’s important to first understand it. To understand impulse buying from a psychological perspective, we should ask the question, “What motivates us to impulsively buy products?” He adds that impulse buyers tend to experience more anxiety and difficulty controlling their emotions, which may make it harder to resist emotional urges to impulsively spend money.
Impulse buying defeats the purpose of personal budgeting. Our quest to please our inner cravings often lead to buying items and gadgets that we never had in our list-to-buy.
According to a recent survey from the Bank of Montreal, a surprising majority of Canadians improve their mood with an afternoon at the mall.
According to the poll, 59 percent of those surveyed admitted to indulging in impulse purchases of items like clothes and shoes, as well as engaging in extravagant dinners out. In terms of dollars and cents, the average Canadian spends roughly $3,720 on unplanned purchases every year.
Whether you catch yourself buying an unnecessary tube of lipstick or splurging on an expensive gadget, be careful. Impulse purchases can add up quickly, impacting your daily budget and your ability to save for the future according to Shawconnect.
We have to learn to say NO to unplanned purchases. I got a shock of my life whiles researching this topic. Hitherto, I believed that women were the worst culprits when we talked about impulse buying. However, an empirical survey in Canada said otherwise.
Data from the BMO survey shows that men spend twice as much as women ($414 vs. $207 on average per month) on impulse purchases. While women are more likely to purchase clothing on a whim (66 percent), men often empty their wallets when dining out with friends.
Whiles some may argue that things look different in Ghana, the picture based on the above survey will not be far from wrong in our setting.
We usually fall into the trap of impulse buying at the malls and market space. The obvious cause of this anomaly is because we go shopping with a “blank cheque mentality”.
Most people shop without any list and the few who attempt to do quickly forget why they decided to visit the mall.
Age also appears to have an impact on consumer behavior. According to the survey, one in three Canadians under the age of 30 is unable to afford something they need because of spending money on unnecessary "wants."
My friend, never assume that you are home and dry if your impulse purchase is a sale item. Purchasing a "discounted" item that you don't need is still a waste of money like what many people do during “Black Fridays”.
We visit shops with so much enthusiasm and end up buying quantities we will never need and items we will never use.
A further survey by BMO in Canada showed that the average Canadian spends roughly $310 a month on superfluous items. Respondents felt that they could probably save two-thirds of that, or $206 a month if they simply made an effort to limit impulse spending. That’s an additional $2,472 a year.
In translating the above survey in our Ghanaian setting, respondents spent roughly GHS 1,798($310*5.8) on unbudgeted items and believed that if you resisted the temptation of impulse buying, they could have saved GHS 1,195($206*5.8) monthly. That will give you a yearly savings of GHS 14,338.
I know perhaps you are thinking that the above amounts quoted are odd in our society. Yes, I agree but the GHS 500 you spend monthly based on impulse buying can be saved and give you a yearly savings of GHS 6,000. This amount can help in settling your next rent or ward’s school fees.
One of my foremost advice, when the issue of financial discipline comes up, is to look ahead and not focus so much on today’s gratifications.
So the obvious question now is to find a lasting solution to the urge of impulse buying.
ALWAYS SHOP WITH A LIST PREPARED AT HOME
Make a list of the things you intend to buy at home even before you step out. Planning purchases is the quickest and easiest way to ensure that you use your money wisely. Finding the time to sit down and map out something even as simple as a grocery list can seem like a daunting task but necessary.
You will experience a sharp decline in your monthly expenses when you take this simple but effective step.
TAKE WHAT YOU NEED
The next effective way is to keep an amount which will commensurate with the shopping list prepared. If the total cost of your list is GHS 500, do not take GHS 1,000 to the market. I will advise that you keep an extra 10% of the total cost of the shopping list which in this case will be GHS 550 and not GHS 1,000. The psychological mind which always seeks to gratify pleasure will push you into unplanned purchases when you keep more than needed amount on you. One may ask, what about we those shopping with debit or ATM cards. The same principle applies to you. I will even advise that we rather use an already loaded prepaid card for shopping instead of our ATM cards which will probably be linked to your main account.
Remember, the devil cannot tempt you beyond your strength! Temptation on the extra GHS 50 is not the same as the extra GHS 500.
MANUALLY TRACK WHERE YOUR MONEY GOES
According to Golden Girl Finance “It's hard to curb your spending if you're not aware of where your money is actually going. Luckily, there are tons of great online financial applications designed specifically to help you monitor your spending.”
Commit to a weekly or monthly review of expenses with a list of what you used your monies for as I explained in my earlier article on record keeping. Record keeping should be a key component of your daily routine to quickly spot financial excesses.
The Holy Books in 1 Corinthians 6:18a says “Flee from sexual immorality”. Today, I want to urge you to flee from the temptation of impulse buying to save the next generation which starts today.
We all have a soft spot for money drainers. We are someway somehow addicted to spending money unwisely on them yet to continue to place ourselves in their domain to be tempted. Do yourself a favor and flee from all tempting spots.
If you are easily tempted by Pizza even when you are not financially stable to afford it, why do you keep shopping at the mall??
We need to distinguish between needs and wants.
If you do find yourself staring at an item that you can't resist, ask yourself if it's something that you actually need, or if it's just something that you want. If it falls under the "want" list, consider holding off!
By putting that product back on the counter and refusing to purchase it, you’re doing something to help yourself and the next generation.
I will end today’s discussion with an apt statement by Ian Zimmerman Ph.D. He said, “If you get a sudden urge to buy something after you play around with it, or after realizing you can buy it immediately, or after thinking of a friend who owns it, you’re probably experiencing an impulse buying urge that came from a connection between you and the product.”
Stay positive and be determined to overcome the urge to buy an unplanned item.
Financial excesses can make you Poor so Kill it now!!
I wish everyone a wonderful and memorable week!
Patrick Baah Abankwa is a chartered banker with over 6 years’ experience in main stream banking having worked in various capacities. He is currently the Business Development and Corporate Affairs Manager at the Chartered Institute of Bankers, Ghana.
He has been a qualified member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers, Ghana with a good membership standing since the year 2013.
He also holds EMBA and BA from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science, Technology, and the University of Ghana respectively.
Patrick is the originator of the daily epistle dubbed “Savings Tip of the Day” which has been running for over a year on WhatsApp and Facebook.
Patrick has also been teaching on the Topics Savings, Investment and Financial Independence for over 2 years and a research fellow for ILAPI Ghana. He runs a financial channel on Youtube by name “Patrick TV Gh” and has appeared a couple of times on the business segment of TV3 News 360.
Patrick is into youth facilitation and counselling. He can be contacted via [email protected] and or 0243984492.
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