Impulse buying is the enemy of all budgets. If you stuck to the spending plan, the savings would simply roll in, but when was the last time you walked out of a store — or checked out of an online store — with only the items on your shopping list?
First rule of reducing impulse purchases, says Beth Pickenpaugh of Guardian Wealth Management, is never to go grocery shopping hungry. Second, leave the kids at home. She estimates savings of at least $20 per trip to the grocery store and annual savings in the thousands of dollars.
But one of the greatest weak points for impulse buying is online shopping. Linda Rogers of Planning Within Reach advises clients to turn off 1-Click ordering on Amazon, which makes it almost too easy to buy unnecessary items on a whim. Rogers recommends using the "Wish List" option instead.
"If you think you want something, add it to your Wish List," Rogers says. "It satisfies the desire in the moment, and if you still feel you need or want the item after three days, buy it. But it helps cut down on impulse purchases."
One surprising arena for impulse spending is charitable giving. We're bombarded with emails and Facebook pleas from nonprofits doing important work, so it's tempting to give $25 to all of them.
"Set a monthly limit for charitable giving and track what you donate so you don't overspend," says Lauren Lindsay with Personal Financial Advisors. "If you tend to be an impulsive giver, this can save hundreds."
Potential Savings: $2,600 and up