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Does impulse spending affect you?

Have you ever made an impulse purchase, and then regretted it the next day? If so, you’re not alone. According to a recent BMO report on impulse spending, Canadians are spending an average of $3,720 annually on items they want but do not need, with nearly 50% regretting purchases after they’ve made them.

Looking back, I feel like I haven’t done a lot of impulse spending. But just this past weekend, I did it twice: going back into a store after making a purchase just to buy two more pieces of candy that I wanted, and making an impromptu bus trip outside of the city to check out a castle. Now, thankfully the total cost of my extra spending was less than $10, but it just shows you how easy it is for money to disappear without even really knowing it.

Here are a few scary stats from the report:

  • 31% have had to borrow money or take out a loan to pay for non essential items.
  • 23% were unable to buy something they NEED because they spent too much on their WANTS.
  • 60% go shopping to cheer themselves up, 55% buy things they may not need just because they’re on sale, and 42% buy items they never end up using.

Another interesting statistic is that the report found on average, men spend twice as much as women on wants – $414 vs. $207. Funny, I would have thought the number would be reversed.

For me, I would say that 99% of my impulse spending is small (less than $5 each), and I’ve accounted for that kind of spending in my monthly budget. Still, that kind of spending can add up quickly, which is why I have my weekly spending recap posts. Forcing myself to go over my spending on a weekly basis really helps me keep my spending in check.

For bigger purchases, I’ve been taking my time and making sure it’s really what I want. Most of the time, the urge passes, and I find a way to get by without whatever it is I wanted to buy. Other times, I make room for it in my budget, and buy it a few days later.

So how do you crack down on impulse spending?

Are subscription boxes & samples worth it?

A friend of mine recently sent out a mass e-mail to all of her female friends, raving about the beauty subscription boxes she had recently started paying for. Since then, I’ve noticed a lot of other bloggers talking about their subscription boxes – whether it’s nail polish, make-up, dog treats, organic food, etc. – a lot of people seem to be subscribed to at least one of these box services!

For these companies, it seems like pretty easy money. Customers pay money (usually a monthly subscription) in exchange for what are essentially sample sized products that many companies offer for free.

Here are a few of the more popular beauty subscription box sites – and their prices:

Canada

Loose Button (offered 4x/year) – $26/3 months (1 box), $50/6 months (2 boxes), $96/12 months (4 boxes)
– This service offers boxes each season containing 7-8 trial-sized beauty and lifestyle items.

TopBox.ca (offered 12x/year) – $10/month
– Every month you will receive 4 beauty products.

Glymm (offered 12x/year) – $12/month
– Every month you will receive 4-5 beauty samples and a reusable cosmetic bag.

USA

GlossyBox (offered 12x/year – $12/month, $60/3 months, $115/6 months 220/12 months)
– Every month you will receive 4-5 travel-sized samples. GlossyBox is also now being offered in Canada!

Birch Box (offered 12x/year) – $10/month
– One of the first subscription box services in the USA. Every month you will receive approximately 4-6 samples.

Beauty Army (offered 12x/year) – $12/month
– You get to choose up to 6 products each month.

I think these kinds of monthly subscriptions boxes appeal to people who don’t want to be bothered with trying to score free samples of products at make-up counters, or who are truly interested in discovering the latest and greatest products – without having to shell out the money to pay for a full-sized tube, or trying the icky testers in stores.

Personally, I’ve been curious about these beauty boxes for a few years, but haven’t been willing to pay for them. I love picking out my free samples whenever I place orders through Sephora, and I love scoring samples at drug stores whenever I’m there. But, I almost always end up giving them away. Even when I worked as a beauty counter in a drug store, I rarely ever took any samples home. I don’t wear a lot of make-up, and my skin is too sensitive for most face products.

I’d be more interested in a subscription box for healthy food samples, organic products – stuff along those lines. I know that there are a lot of services in the USA that offer these types of boxes, but I haven’t found them in Canada. In fact, most subscription box services in Canada seem to be for beauty products. Although I did find a company in Vancouver that offers to send you a pair of panties every month… :) Oh, and in France, they even have a monthly subscription box for cheese and wine!

Have you (or would you) subscribe to one of these monthly sample box services?

When minimalism and personal finance collide

Now, I am not a minimalist by any means. I don’t strive to only own 100 things, travel for months with just a small backpack of possessions, or get rid of the gadgets that I love (Kindle, iPhone, Macbook Pro, Canon G10). And while I don’t mind our small apartment here in Germany, I’m looking forward to having a bit more space in my townhouse back home. :) But I do respect minimalists. And ever since I forced myself to condense my life into a 60L backpack, I don’t even remember or miss the things that I left at home.

But if I only brought the items that I actually care about, where does that leave the rest of my stuff? Does that mean I only need 2 pairs of shoes, 1 jacket, 2 pairs of pants, 1 sweatshirt, and a handful of t-shirts? I’ve never once uttered “oh, I wish I had brought X with me.” In fact, I overpacked. By a lot. I could probably do without 30% of the stuff I brought with me. And hypothetically if I were to leave my possessions in Vancouver behind forever, the only thing I would have regretted not bringing are a few pieces of sentimental jewelry.

So what does that mean for my personal finances when it comes to minimalism? Fabulously Broke touched upon the subject in a guest post for me – Minimalism and finances go hand in hand. And just like my No Spend Day Challenge – where I’m trying to curb my needless impulse purchases – I feel that minimalism is the same concept. It’s trying to de-clutter your life and make it a little simpler.

I know that I could be happy with only owning whatever I can fit into my backpack, but the truth is, I like the comfort that my “stuff” provides me. I like having a home – which is why I am a homeowner. And while I don´t (and never will) have a lot of stuff, I like having a comfy couch, nice dishes, a bread maker, a flat screen TV, and a few more pairs of pants than I actually need to have. :)

Do you ever think you could become a minimalist?

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