My Impulse Buy Savings Plan

One of my unspoken personal vows to myself this year (call it an early New Year’s resolution) was to stop buying so much crap on impulse. More specifically, I am battening down the hatches on gazingus pin spending. I have mentioned before that I have enough frivolous crap acquired throughout my 20’s and even (alas) within the past 2 years as I crossed into my 30’s to entertain me for at least two years without the need to buy newer, shinier crap.

The majority of the crap I have accumulated falls into the following categories:

– Books, non-fiction (usually computer, cooking, craft, exercise, writing, or art instruction)
– Books, fiction (fantasy, sci-fi)
– Magazines (cooking, DIY projects, fitness, gaming)
– Video/Computer games
– Ebook/Audiobook downloads
– Clothing (clever, amusing t-shirts are my particular weakness)
– Fabric
– Clothing patterns
– Art supplies
– Computer stuff (computers, parts, peripherals, software)

While nearly all of these purchases were made at less than retail price since I do love a bargain and make full use of,,, and google for the best deals on everything I buy, few were actual “needs” versus “wants”, and a good 80% of them probably have not been utilized at all within the past year. I hate to admit this, but I’d further estimate that 75% of the media items (books, magazines, games, and software) probably never got truly used for more than 10-20 minutes total each since I bought them.

I’m sure I would be fighting down nausea if I were to total up all the money I have spent on my underutilized crap.

That’s why I have been cutting back so much on my discretionary spending for the past three months, only allotting myself $20/month for fun money. I transfer this exact amount from my primary Wachovia checking account to my ING Direct Electric Orange checking account, and use the Electric Orange debit Mastercard to make non-essential purchases and to pay for the occasional lunch out with the guys at work. I don’t touch my primary checking account or any credit cards for this sort of stuff anymore, and it’s been amazing how much I haven’t been spending on crap since I switched to this method of enforced economy.

I’m taking this a step further now, however, with my Impulse Buy Savings Plan.

This is how it works:

Anytime I am gripped by a strong and legitimate desire to buy non-essential crap of any sort, I will transfer the full cost of the item including tax and shipping from my primary checking account into my Emigrant Direct personal savings account with a memo in Microsoft Money to remind me what item the money is for and let it sit there for one month. If I STILL want the crap a month later, I can, if I desire, transfer the money to my Electric Orange checking account to buy it. However, if the burning need for the piece of crap in question has subsided, I simply leave the transferred funds in my savings account to accrue more interest.

What exactly counts as a “strong and legitimate” desire to buy?

Though this guideline is subjective, crap that I am not actually serious about buying doesn’t have to be counted in this plan–so the cost of stuff like random bargains on Wii or Xbox 360 systems that I might look at but not really intend to buy won’t be transferred into savings. I have to have the crap in my online shopping cart, researched best prices and any savings codes for the merchant, filled in my payment info, and be on the cusp of hitting the “Confirm Order” button in the case of online purchases, or have been toting the item around for at least 20 minutes in a brick and mortar store with the full intent of purchasing it for the purchase price to make it into my savings account.

In this manner I plan to save up enough money to cover the expense of my ticket to the Pink Dumbbells/John Stone Fitness cruise next year.

I am morbidly curious about how long it will take me to build up the $350 needed for the cruise in this way.

I only started this plan two days ago, and already I have scheduled a $33 transfer to the savings account–$10 for NOT buying a copy of Patrones magazine (an imported Spanish pattern magazine) from a fellow sewing enthusiast, $13 for NOT buying two ebooks at despite the 100% Micropay rebate on one of them (the 2 ebooks are still sitting in my cart), and $10 for NOT going to see a vampire movie tonight with Chris that I KNOW I would hate. (I debated about the movie for a good 30 minutes, visited to research it, and seriously considered going just to be social, so I count this as “toting around the store” time.)

I’m almost 10% to my savings goal already!

How scary is that?

5 thoughts on “My Impulse Buy Savings Plan

  1. Hi Maggie,

    I just wanted to let you know that I’ve been quietly reading your blog for about two years, and I think you’re fabulous. I just set up a blog and I put a link to your blog, but I wasn’t sure what the etiquette was so I figured I’d let you know in case you’re not cool with that-I’d still be a big fan anyway!

    Good luck in your 5k! You’ll kick ass!!

    -Chunkmonkey (Jenna)

  2. :em03: surfed here from Consumerist & love the idea. small enough to “sell” to my self & hubby; yet big enough to be effective :em32:

  3. Oh, reading your post was like looking in the mirror. My particular weaknesses are fatwallet target deals and ESPECIALLY her.dealnews! And anytime I buy something online, I go to ebates to see if there is a chance of a double deal.

    What I had to do, to control my out-of-control AmEx bill was stop using it. Instead I take the amount I could afford to pay to AmEx every month and use cash. Online purchases require that I put the amount purchased into a jar, that goes back into my savings account, until the AmEx bill is due.

    Good luck!

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