With a bit of effort, you can recover the money you spent during your impulsive shopping spree.
A bad day at work, or an hour with an encouraging friend, and your budget might go out the window. If you’ve already gone ahead and spent impulsively, then you need to take steps to fix the damage. It may not be pleasant over the next few weeks, but you’ll be grateful for it later.
Here’s how to get your finances back on track after an impulsive shopping spree.
Raise Savings to Cover the Spent Amount Over the Next 3 Months
It’s not always realistic to make it up with more savings all at one go. This is especially true if your impulse buy was expensive, such as a vacation ticket.
What you can do is make up the cost by raising your savings a certain percentage, such as 15-20% over the next three months.
For example, you impulsively bought a piece of jewellery worth S$1,200. Assuming your take home pay is S$4,000 a month, you can commit to saving an additional 10% (S$400 per month) over the next three months. This is much easier (read: easier to stick to and succeed) than trying to save an extra S$1,200 next month.
Do not give yourself too long a time to replace your savings. You could end up being willing to spend more if you take the approach. For example, if you decide to replace the aforementioned S$1,200 over 12 months, that’s “only” S$100 a month. This could cultivate the mentality that it’s okay to buy now, because you can easily save it back later.
Consider Quickly Reselling What You Bought
“But it’s a waste of money!” you’ll sputter in indignation. That’s true, but your impulsive shopping spree may have been a worse waste of money. If you end up with a snowballing credit card fee or no emergency savings, the end result could be far more expensive than accepting a loss and reselling immediately.
Consider this for products that you just wanted to handle for a while, and for which the charm is already fading. For example, you may have bought a particular watch because it’s been on your mind for months. Now that you have it, you don’t feel it’s as great as you thought.
Well, allow yourself a week or two to use what you bought. Right after that, try to resell it via Carousell or eBay. You will lose money this way, but think of that loss as a sort of “rental fee”. It’s better to recoup the costs now than to get into debt for something you’re no longer enthusiastic about.
If It Can Be Shared, Split It With a Friend
So now you regret buying that S$500 spa package, or a S$60 a month magazine subscription. One way around it is to try and split it with a friend.
For example, if the spa package has transferrable sessions, see if a friend might be interested in sharing with you. They pay half of it, and you two split the sessions between you.
For the magazine subscription, you could find a friend who also wants to read the same magazine. For half the price each, you can both get access to the same material.
Go on a Saving Spree
This method is the opposite of point 1, and it’s for people who want to get over the pain fast. This method works for small amounts, of S$500 or less. For larger amounts, use the method in point 1 instead.
Calculate the absolute, bare minimum you need to spend over the month (say S$20 a day). Withdraw that exact amount of money that you need each week, and keep it in your wallet. You will allow yourself only to spend what’s in your wallet; if you run out, then you’ll just have to go home and eat what you find in the kitchen. This means little or no going out, especially with friends on the weekend.
Any excess monies, over the amount you need to survive, should go to your separate savings account.
Using this method, you should be able to make up for your overspending within a short period.
Set Aside Extra Hours to Earn It Back
Penalise yourself by setting aside extra hours (say burning one weekend) to earn back the amount spent. This could mean helping someone to set up a simple website, doing deliveries, designing PowerPoint presentations…whatever it takes to make an extra buck.
The upside to this method is that it makes up for your spending, without you having to give up / share what you bought. There’s also a side-benefit, in that you may find a lucrative side income source that you can carry on doing.
Tip: once you have the funds for another shopping spree, use a credit card like the American Express CapitaCard to earn points from your purchase. You can find the best rewards credit cards at SingSaver.com.sg.
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By Ryan Ong
Ryan has been writing about finance for the last 10 years. He also has his fingers in a lot of other pies, having written for publications such as Men’s Health, Her World, Esquire, and Yahoo! Finance.