Our Impulse Buys

budget, cut expenses, expenses, how we win, personal finance

OK, we talk a big game. But we are just as susceptible to consumerism and marketing as the rest of us. So here is our confession post- our impulse buys. The items that we purchased on a whim and how they did or didn’t turn out for us.


Worst Impulse Decisions

Let’s get the worst ones over with…

  1. Signing up for and then cancelling a cruise ($776)– In early 2013 we booked a cruise for December of that year. Living in a port city we knew that we could easily book a trip and get to and from the cruise without much extra cost. We planned on having this be a birthday + holiday gift combo for each other. Not 4 months later Mr. Winning Williams proposed and after discussing a European honeymoon the cruise was cancelled and money lost in an effort to conserve vacation days for a longer honeymoon. Well the honeymoon ended up being a shorter trip to Costa Rica so we could have taken the cruise after all. We cancelled too quickly and lost money in the process (money was gone and we didn’t have the cruise experience). But we had a blast in Costa Rica and did eventually make it to Europe.
  2. Gifts (A lot over a lifetime)– This is an open-ended black box of  money spent that we are making a conscious effort to remedy. Each year at the holidays we feel the pressure to purchase goods totaling a certain dollar amount to show our loved ones how much they mean to us. This isn’t at all what Christmas or any other major holiday is about, but we all do it. It feels wrong to say “Here Mom, thanks for your unending love and support, this gift is worth $10.” So we spend. Last year we made an effort to do something different. Instead of buying stuff that our family may not even want or need we made them homemade chocolates. This was something that they all enjoyed and we felt that the time and effort that went into this gift for them was more valuable than just picking anything off the shelf. (This also relates to our decluttering initiative- article to come soon)

Best Impulse Decisions

And now for all the times that it has worked in our favor…

  1. Bread Machine- Goodwill $8: We like to eat bread. For all of our healthy living and eating we genuinely feel that we cannot remove bread from our diet. It’s amazing and delicious. On a whim we purchased a bread machine from Goodwill. It was only $8 so if it didn’t work we would only be out the money spent. But the machine did work and it has created dozens of delicious loaves of bread, soft pretzels and dinner rolls. Best $8 spent ever!
  2. Kayaks– used from neighbor (oars, locks, whistles and one fishing rod stand included) $300: We had investigated the cost of purchasing kayaks in the past. After we saw the cost of even the smallest kayaks and the oars (some places had $100 for one oar) we held off. But when a neighbor of ours said he was looking to sell a pair of kayaks for $300 we knew it would be a great deal. Money was exchanged and we were on the water for a beautiful sunset. This one time cost has a health benefit and will allow us to enjoy these kayaks and our local waterways as long as our arms can last.

Kayaks on Tampa Bay Kayaks on Tampa Bay

And that’s about it folks. We planned to post this last week but held off so that we could rack our brains for more examples, but we just don’t do impulse buys. We carefully evaluate each purchase and ask ourselves “will this bring me joy?” It seems simple but consider asking yourself the same question the next time that you see something catch your eye.


Questions to ask yourself

Will it break your budget?

Will you use it in the next month?

What are three concrete examples of when you will use this item?

What would the Winning Williams do?

Is this item worth working X more days before retiring?

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