Curb Impulse Buying By Giving Yourself A Challenge


impulse buyingEveryone’s got a weakness when it comes to impulse buying. For yours truly, there’s more than one, but this story is about one of my favorite pastimes: golf.

I’m an avid golfer. Not a good golfer mind you, I just enjoy playing the game whenever I get the chance. There’s no better hobby for challenging your concentration, focus, fitness and patience. Plus, golf allows me to remain competitive in something as I get older, especially around my younger brothers who are way more athletic than I am.

If you are a golfer though, you know it can be an incredibly expensive hobby. From clubs to balls to shoes to clothing to greens fees, there’s nothing cheap about it. So when I decided I wanted some new clubs a couple of years back I knew it was going to cost me some serious moolah.

The Myth About Golf Clubs

Shhhh! Don’t tell anyone this, but golf clubs don’t make you a better golfer. Many times they actually make you worse because they change your swing and take getting used to! Club makers always advertise them as if using the latest and greatest clubs will allow you to hit the ball farther than you do now, as well as improve your accuracy.  But golf scores are improved between the ears, not at the golf shop.

I tell you that because I had a perfectly good set of golf clubs that I had been using for several years, and I knew that I could continue playing with those clubs for years to come. However, those particular clubs were extremely weighted in the head, which was perfect for helping my inexperienced self get a golf ball up in the air more easily years back.

I was discovering, however, that this extra weight really took some speed out of my swing, and my swing had been changing and slowing down to accommodate.

All this to say, I had improved quite a bit over the previous years, and wanted to buy some clubs that would allow me to continue to improve. After a few weeks of reading reviews and shopping around, I found the clubs I wanted. The best part was that they could be found used on eBay for half the retail price, around $300 for the irons. But I didn’t buy them… yet.

I knew that this was an unnecessary purchase. I knew that I’d be able to continue playing with my current clubs with predictable results. I knew that this was mostly a selfish purchase, which I couldn’t easily justify in the grand scheme of things.

The 30-Day Impulse Buying Challenge

So I thought about these clubs that I wanted to buy. I thought about my family’s savings goals, and about the things I was sure my wife probably wanted to buy. Then I decided to create a challenge for myself, so I wrote it out and presented it to my wife. Here’s what the challenge consisted of:

  1. Exercise: For 30 straight days I will do 100 crunches each day. If I miss a day, the challenge starts over. Only upon completing the 30 days of crunches will I buy the golf clubs.
  2. Money: I will find alternative ways of funding the golf club purchase, including:
    1. Selling items I already own on eBay
    2. Extra IT services for friends and family
    3. Saving my allowance (yes, my wife and I get allowances)

My wife agreed to this challenge, and I began crunching and saving post-haste!

The Benefits Of An Impulse Buying Challenge

I’ve actually gone through one of these 3 times now, and I can tell you I’ve really started to enjoy challenging myself before making a purchase like this. Here’s why:

  • It slows the process down. Giving myself a challenge that takes time forces me to think through the pros and cons thoroughly before making that purchase. After 30 days, if you’re still sure you want to buy that item and you’ve got the money, feel free!
  • I’m healthier than I was before. I can always use the extra motivation to exercise, especially around my mid-section…
  • I’m more creative in trying to find extra money, leaving our timelines toward our financial goals intact.
  • It’s fun! Accomplishing a goal on the way to buying something is MUCH more satisfying than simply whipping out the credit card, and looking back I am still enjoying the 3 large purchases I made with those challenges. There’s an emotional element that makes the purchases more significant than they would have been otherwise.


So what do you think? Would a challenge like this be something you’d consider trying? Or is there another way you regulate your impulse buying habits?

By the way, every winter I participate in a golf weekend with several guys I worked with 15 years ago, and this year I won the trophy (with my relatively-new-to-me golf clubs). Coincidence? I think not.