Control Your Spending With the 30-Day Rule

Control Your Spending With the 30-Day Rule

Do you feel the urge to splurge every time you walk into a store? Whether you love home décor, clothing, or books, we’re all susceptible to the desire to buy something we may not actually need. Giving into this urge, however, can spell disaster for your budget. How can you stop that impulse spending? Try implementing this 30-day rule to get your spending under control. Read on to learn how it works.

1. Stop Yourself Before You Buy

Imagine you’re walking through a store and you find a gorgeous lamp that would look great in your living room — even though you already have two perfectly good lamps there. Before you put that lamp in your car, stop. If it’s already in your car, take it out. Return the item to the store. Take a picture of it, the product info, and the price with your smartphone, and leave.

2. Record Your Information About the Impulse Buy

Start a record, either in a note on your phone or on a piece of paper at home, about the item you’re interested in. In this case, it would be the lamp. Your listing should include:

  • The price of the lamp
  • A written description or a photo of the item
  • The name of the store where you found it

3. Wait and Research the Item

Do not take any action on the impulse item for 30 days. Instead, wait it out. You can look on websites of other stores to see if anyone has it cheaper and to read reviews of the item. You can also research future sales at the store where the item, in this case the lamp, is sold.

4. When 30 Days Are Up, Decide If You Still Want the Item

Once you’ve had a month to ponder whether you actually need the item, it’s time to make your decision. If you still believe that lamp will be the perfect piece for your living room and you must have it, then go ahead and buy it, as long as you can afford to pay for it right away. If you no longer feel quite as excited about the item, then skip it.

You may find that you forget about the item entirely after the 30 days, saving you money.

Of course, not every scenario will fit neatly into the 30-day rule parameters. Here are a few special circumstances in which you may choose not to follow our guidelines.


There’s a Sale at the Store Right Now

Sometimes the appeal of an impulse buy is the amount of money you’ll save if you buy the item during the sale taking place right now. Get all the information you can on the sale to make an informed decision. Ask a salesperson:

  • How long the sale will last
  • How much of the item they have in stock
  • What their return policy is for items purchased during the sale

If the store still has plenty of the lamps in stock, then take a day to think about it. You can still follow the suggestion of taking a picture and looking at it the next day. Do some online research to see who else carries the item and at what price. Perhaps another store regularly sells this lamp for less than the sale price at the first store you went to. Then you can proceed with implementing the 30-day rule and go to store number two for the purchase if you still want to buy the item after 30 days.

If no one else has the lamp at such a great price, don’t rush in and buy it just yet. First, phone a friend or your spouse. Get their opinion on the lamp — you may want to text them a picture so they can give you input. Take a walk and get out of the store for at least an hour. If you still want the item, go back to the store and buy it, as long as you can pay for it up front.

Very Few of the Items Are Available

If the store has a low inventory of this type of lamp, then you may also need to skip the 30-day rule. Ask the salesperson to put the lamp on reserve for you for the next hour. Then phone someone to discuss it. If your friend or spouse agrees it’s a good buy and you still want it after the hour is up, buy it.

If the store has a no-holds policy, but they do offer a return policy, go ahead and buy the item. Keep the receipt handy for the next month or so just in case you change your mind. You may get home and find that the lamp doesn’t quite match the room the way you imagined.

Stores With Limited or Changing Merchandise

Get in the habit of always asking these types of stores about a return policy, so you know you can bring something back if you end up having buyer’s remorse. Keep the bag, the tag from the item, and the receipt for as long as the return policy lasts in case you change your mind.

Other Ways to Control Impulse Spending

If your spending habits have gotten a little out of control, these final tips can help reel them in.

  • Bring your most frugal friend along with you on your shopping trips. They can remind you that while you may find a moment’s pleasure in purchasing the gold leaf lion statue, that high will only last until you get it home and remember you don’t have any other furniture that goes with gold leaf.
  • Keep your credit cards at home and only carry cash. You can’t overspend if you don’t have any money available.
  • Join PSECU to get our lock and unlock feature on your debit card. Then, before shopping, lock your debit card. When you do this, you have to take the time to log into your account to unlock it before you can make a purchase. Slowing down in this way will make you really think about whether you want to make this purchase.

Implement the 30-day rule and watch your budget recover from those previous impulse buys. And if you want to find more tips on money management, consult our WalletWorks page.

The content provided in this publication is for informational purposes only. Nothing stated is to be construed as financial or legal advice. Some products not offered by PSECU. PSECU does not endorse any third parties, including, but not limited to, referenced individuals, companies, organizations, products, blogs, or websites. PSECU does not warrant any advice provided by third parties. PSECU does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information provided by third parties. PSECU recommends that you seek the advice of a qualified financial, tax, legal, or other professional if you have questions.